Background: A qualitative assessment of conventional bone scintigraphy with 99mTc methylene diphosphonate is perceived as an insensitive method for monitoring the treatment response of bone metastases, and we postulated that semi-quantitative 18F-fluoride positron emission tomography (PET) might serve as a suitable alternative biomarker of the treatment response.
Methods: Five patients with castrate-resistant prostate cancer and bone metastases with no known soft tissue disease received 100 kBq/kg of radium-223 (223Ra)-chloride (Alpharadin) therapy at 0 and 6 weeks and had whole body 18F-fluoride PET scans at baseline, 6 and 12 weeks with concurrent prostatic-specific antigen (PSA) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) measurements. A qualitative comparison of the PET scans was performed blinded to the PSA and ALP results. A semi-quantitative comparison was made by measuring the maximum standardised uptake values (SUVmax) in five bone metastases in each patient. The means of the five SUVmax measurements in each subject were used as a quantitative measure of global metastatic activity at each time point.
Results: Three patients showed a PSA decline at 12 weeks (-44%, -31%, -27% reduction) whilst two patients showed PSA increases (+10%, +17%). All five patients showed a reduction in ALP of greater than 25%. The qualitative assessment of the 18F-fluoride scans recorded a stable disease in each case. However, the semi-quantitative assessment showed agreement with the PSA decline in three patients (-52%, -75%, -49%) and minimal change (+12%, -16%) in two patients with increased PSA at 12 weeks. Four patients showed similar reductions in mean SUVmax and ALP at 12 weeks.
Conclusions: The semi-quantitative 18F-fluoride PET is more accurate than the qualitative comparison of scans in assessing response in bone metastases, correlating with the PSA response and ALP activity and offering a potential imaging biomarker for monitoring treatment response in bone metastases following treatment with 223Ra-chloride.