Emerging role of FDG-PET/CT in assessing atherosclerosis in large arteries

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2009 Jan;36(1):144-51. doi: 10.1007/s00259-008-0947-2. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


Atherosclerosis is a dynamic inflammatory disorder. The biological composition and inflammatory state of an atherosclerotic plaque, rather than the degree of stenosis or its size are the major determinants of acute clinical events. A noninvasive technique to detect vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque is critically needed. FDG-PET/CT, a combined functional and structural whole-body imaging modality, holds great potential for this purpose. FDG uptake in large arteries has been frequently observed and is associated with cardiovascular risk factors. FDG accumulates in plaque macrophages and uptake is correlated with macrophage density. It is known that vascular FDG uptake and calcification do not overlap significantly and changes of FDG uptake are common, suggesting that FDG uptake may represent a dynamic inflammatory process. It has been reported that vascular FDG uptake can be attenuated by simvastatin in patients, and by the antiinflammatory drug probucol in rabbits. Vascular FDG uptake has been linked to cardiovascular events in some preliminary studies. Data from basic sciences, and animal and clinical studies support the emerging role of FDG-PET/CT in assessing atherosclerosis in large arteries in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography / methods*
  • Animals
  • Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Atherosclerosis / metabolism
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*


  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18