Molecular imaging in infiltrative cardiomyopathies is increasingly penetrating the clinical arena. Current approaches target the infiltrate directly, or its metabolic, physiologic, or functional consequences. Inflammation may not just play a role as the infiltrative mechanism itself. It is also thought to play a key role in the development and progression of heart failure in general, because it promotes the development of tissue fibrosis. The cascade leading from tissue damage to inflammation and further to fibrosis and loss of function has emerged as a therapeutic target. This review focuses (1) on novel tracers of inflammation, which are on the brink of clinical applicability and may be more specific than the gross metabolic marker F-18 deoxyglucose; and (2) on novel biologic imaging targets in fibrosis, which may be exploited for interrogation of the crosstalk between inflammation and loss of contractile function. Ultimately, the success of any novel molecular imaging assay will depend on whether it can be used for successful guidance of novel, targeted therapies aiming at tissue regeneration.
Keywords: Molecular imaging; fibrosis; infiltrative cardiomyopathy; inflammation.