Background: The "back-translation" of clinically available protocols to measure myocardial perfusion to preclinical imaging in mouse models of human disease is attractive for basic biomedical research. With respect to single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) approaches, clinical myocardial perfusion imaging protocols are established with different 99mTc-labeled perfusion tracers; however, studies evaluating and optimizing protocols for these tracers in high-resolution pinhole SPECT in mice are lacking. This study aims at evaluating two clinically available 99mTc-labeled myocardial perfusion tracers (99mTc-sestamibi vs. 99mTc-Tetrofosmin) in mice using four different imaging protocols.
Methods: Adult C57BL/6 male mice were injected with 99mTc-sestamibi (MIBI) or 99mTc-Tetrofosmin (TETRO) (4 MBq/g body weight) either intravenously through the tail vein (n = 5) or retroorbitally (n = 5) or intraperitoneally (i.p.) under anesthesia (n = 3) or i.p. in an awake state (n = 3) at rest. Immediately after injection, a multi-frame single-photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) acquisition was initiated with six subsequent time frames of 10 min each. Reconstructed images of the different protocols were assessed and compared by visual analysis by experts and by time-activity-curves generated from regions-of-interest for various organs (normalized uptake values).
Results: Visually assessing overall image quality, the best image quality was found for MIBI for both intravenous injection protocols, whereas TETRO only had comparable image quality after retroorbital injections. These results were confirmed by quantitative analysis where left ventricular (LV) uptake of MIBI after tail vein injections was found significantly higher for all time points accompanied with a significantly slower washout of 16% for MIBI vs. 33% for TETRO (p = 0.009) from 10 to 60 min post injection (PI). Interestingly, LV washout from 10 to 60 min PI was significantly higher for TETRO when applied by tail vein injections when compared to retroorbital injections (22%, p = 0.008). However, liver uptake was significant and comparable for both tracers at all time points. Radioactivity concentration in the lungs was negligible for all time points and both tracers.
Conclusion: Intravenous MIBI injection (both tail vein and retroorbital) results in the best image quality for assessing myocardial perfusion of the murine heart by SPECT/CT. TETRO has a comparable image quality only for the retroorbital injection route.