Immuno-PET and Immuno-SPECT of Rheumatoid Arthritis with Radiolabeled Anti-Fibroblast Activation Protein Antibody Correlates with Severity of Arthritis

J Nucl Med. 2015 May;56(5):778-83. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.114.152959. Epub 2015 Apr 9.


One of the most prominent cell populations playing a role in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is activated fibroblast-like synoviocytes. Among many other proteins, fibroblast-like synoviocytes dominantly express fibroblast activation protein (FAP). Because of the high expression of FAP in arthritic joints, radioimmunoimaging of activated fibroblasts with anti-FAP antibodies might be an attractive noninvasive imaging tool in RA.

Methods: SPECT and PET with (111)In- and (89)Zr-labeled anti-FAP antibody 28H1 was performed in mice with CIA. The radioactivity uptake in joints was quantified and correlated with arthritis score.

Results: Both (111)In-28H1 and (89)Zr-28H1 showed high uptake in inflamed joints, being 3-fold higher than that of the irrelevant isotype-matched control antibody DP47GS, clearly indicating specific accumulation of 28H1. Uptake of (111)In-28H1 ranged from 2.2 percentage injected dose per gram (%ID/g) in noninflamed joints to 32.1 %ID/g in severely inflamed joints. DP47GS accumulation ranged from 1.6 %ID/g in noninflamed tissue to 12.0 %ID/g in severely inflamed joints. Uptake of 28H1 in inflamed joints correlated with arthritis score (Spearman ρ, 0.69; P < 0.0001) and increased with severity of arthritis.

Conclusion: SPECT/CT imaging with the anti-FAP antibody (111)In-28H1 specifically visualized arthritic joints with high resolution, and tracer accumulation correlated with the severity of the inflammation in murine experimental arthritis. Background uptake of the radiolabeled antibody was low, resulting in excellent image quality. (89)Zr-28H1 was less favorable for RA imaging because of an elevated bone uptake of (89)Zr. Future studies will focus on the potential role of 28H1 as a tool to monitor therapy response early on.

Keywords: CIA; PET imaging; SPECT imaging; fibroblast activation protein (FAP); monoclonal antibody.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / pathology
  • Fibroblasts / diagnostic imaging
  • Gelatinases / immunology*
  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / immunology*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Zirconium


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Indium Radioisotopes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Zirconium
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • fibroblast activation protein alpha
  • Gelatinases