Assessing tumor hypoxia by positron emission tomography with Cu-ATSM

Q J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2009 Apr;53(2):193-200.


For the last several decades, hypoxia has been recognized to be one of the key factors in tumor aggression and an important impediment to local and distant control of malignant tumors. In addition, hypoxia is a major cause of failure of both radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It has been shown that hypoxia is an independent negative prognostic factor for patient outcome in various solid tumors. Clinical studies using polarographic oxygen electrodes, as a tool for measuring hypoxia, were the first to demonstrate the presence of hypoxia in human tumors and its association with poor prognosis. However, this method is invasive and has technical limitations that prevent its routine clinical use. Over the years, imaging as a noninvasive method has attracted a lot of attention and several radiotracers have been developed for noninvasive evaluation of hypoxia. One of the most promising radiotracers is the copper(II) complex of diacetyl-2,3-bis(N(4)-methyl-3-thiosemicarbazonato) ligand (Cu-ATSM) for imaging with positron emission tomography. In this review, the preclinical evaluation of Cu-ATSM as well as its clinical value in several solid tumors will be discussed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cell Hypoxia*
  • Coordination Complexes
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Organometallic Compounds*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Thiosemicarbazones*


  • Coordination Complexes
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Radioactive Tracers
  • Thiosemicarbazones
  • copper (II) diacetyl-di(N(4)-methylthiosemicarbazone)