Biodistribution, Tumor Detection, and Radiation Dosimetry of 18F-5-Fluoro-2'-Deoxycytidine with Tetrahydrouridine in Solid Tumors

J Nucl Med. 2019 Apr;60(4):492-496. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.118.216994. Epub 2018 Nov 2.


In preclinical studies, 5-fluoro-2'-deoxycytidine (FdCyd), an inhibitor of DNA methyltransferase and DNA hypermethylation, has shown treatment efficacy against multiple malignancies by suppressing epigenetic hypermethylation in tumor cells. Several ongoing clinical trials are using FdCyd, and although some patients may respond to this drug, in most patients it is ineffective. Thus, establishing a noninvasive imaging modality to evaluate the distribution of the drug may provide insight into the variable responses. A novel experimental radiopharmaceutical, 18F-labeled FdCyd, was developed as a companion imaging agent to the nonradioactive form of the drug, FdCyd. We present the first-in-humans radiation dosimetry results and biodistribution of 18F-FdCyd, administered along with tetrahydrouridine, an inhibitor of cytidine/deoxycytidine deaminase, in patients with a variety of solid tumors undergoing FdCyd therapy. Methods: This phase 0 imaging trial examined the 18F-FdCyd biodistribution and radiation dosimetry in 5 human subjects enrolled in companion therapy trials. In each subject, 4 sequential PET scans were acquired to estimate whole-body and individual organ effective dose, using OLINDA/EXM, version 1.0. Tumor-to-background ratios were also calculated for the tumor sites visualized on PET/CT imaging. Results: The average whole-body effective dose for the experimental radiopharmaceutical 18F-FdCyd administered in conjunction with tetrahydrouridine was 2.12E-02 ± 4.15E-03 mSv/MBq. This is similar to the radiation dose estimates for 18F-FDG PET. The critical organ, with the highest absorbed radiation dose, was the urinary bladder wall at 7.96E-02 mSv/MBq. Other organ doses of note were the liver (6.02E-02mSv/MBq), kidneys (5.26E-02 mSv/MBq), and gallbladder (4.05E-02 mSv/MBq). Tumor target-to-background ratios ranged from 2.4 to 1.4, which potentially enable tumor visualization in static PET images. Conclusion: This phase 0 imaging clinical trial provides evidence that 18F-FdCyd administered in conjunction with tetrahydrouridine yields acceptable individual organ and whole-body effective doses, as well as modest tumor-to-background ratios that potentially enable tumor visualization. Dose estimates for 18F-FdCyd are comparable to those for other PET radiopharmaceuticals, such as 18F-FDG. Further studies with larger study populations are warranted to assess 18F-FdCyd imaging as a predictor of FdCyd treatment effectiveness.

Keywords: 18F-FdCyd; PET imaging; cancer; molecular imaging; tetrahydrouridine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase I
  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Deoxycytidine / administration & dosage
  • Deoxycytidine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Deoxycytidine / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
  • Radiometry
  • Tetrahydrouridine / administration & dosage*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Deoxycytidine
  • Tetrahydrouridine
  • Fluorine-18
  • 5-fluoro-2'-deoxycytidine