Assessment of vulnerable atherosclerotic and fibrotic plaques in coronary arteries using (68)Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT

Am J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2014 Dec 15;5(1):65-71. eCollection 2015.


Activated macrophages which express somatostatin receptor-2 (SSTR-2) play a vital role in rupture of the vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques, which result in death. (68)Ga-DOTATATE binds to somatostatin receptors 2, and therefore, can serve as potential radiotracer to detect atherosclerotic plaques. The purpose of this study was to generate preliminary data with this agent in vulnerable or fibrotic atherosclerotic plaques in the coronary arteries. We evaluated a total of 44 patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NET) who underwent (68)Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT. In each subject, 7 segments in the coronary arteries were assessed, maximum SUV values and target-to-background ratios (TBRs) were calculated. The lesions detected by CT (a total of 308) were divided into 3 groups based on the Hounsfield unites (HU), and of which, 131 with HU less than 70 were classified as being normal (Control Group), 129 with HU 71-188 as fibrotic plaques (Group 2), and. 48 lesions with HU more than 188 as atherosclerotic plaques (Group 3). The mean TBR value in the normal group was 1.345 ± 0.58 while the mean TBR value in the fibrotic plaque group was 1.752 ± 1.50 (p 0.0043) and in atherosclerotic plaques group was (2.043 ± 1.76, p<0.0001). There was a significant correlation (p=0.0026) between (68)Ga-DOTATATE uptake and the progression to formation of atherosclerotic plaques, based on HU. In patients with neuroendocrine tumors, (68)Ga-DOTATATE PET/CT showed significantly increased uptake in the fibrotic and vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques compared to normal coronary arteries suggesting a potential role of this tracer for molecular assessment of coronary artery disease in this population.

Keywords: 68Ga-DOTATATE; Atherosclerotic plaques; cardiovascular risk factors; macrophage; somatostatin receptor.