Investigation of 6-[¹⁸F]-fluoromaltose as a novel PET tracer for imaging bacterial infection

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 22;9(9):e107951. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107951. eCollection 2014.


Despite advances in the field of nuclear medicine, the imaging of bacterial infections has remained a challenge. The existing reagents suffer from poor sensitivity and specificity. In this study we investigate the potential of a novel PET (positron emission tomography) tracer that overcomes these limitations.

Methods: 6-[¹⁸F]-fluoromaltose was synthesized. Its behavior in vitro was evaluated in bacterial and mammalian cultures. Detailed pharmacokinetic and biodistribution profiles for the tracer were obtained from a murine model.

Results: 6-[¹⁸F]-fluoromaltose is taken up by multiple strains of pathogenic bacteria. It is not taken up by mammalian cancer cell lines. 6-[¹⁸F]-fluoromaltose is retained in infected muscles in a murine model of bacterial myositis. It does not accumulate in inflamed tissue.

Conclusion: We have shown that 6-[¹⁸F]-fluoromaltose can be used to image bacterial infection in vivo with high specificity. We believe that this class of agents will have a significant impact on the clinical management of patients.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnostic imaging*
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes / administration & dosage*
  • Maltose / administration & dosage*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / administration & dosage*


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Maltose

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.