Regional Distribution of Fluorine-18-Flubrobenguane and Carbon-11-Hydroxyephedrine for Cardiac PET Imaging of Sympathetic Innervation

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2021 Jul;14(7):1425-1436. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2020.09.026. Epub 2020 Nov 18.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the regional distribution of novel 18F-labeled positron emission tomographic (PET) tracer flubrobenguane (FBBG) (whose longer half-life could enable more widespread use) to assess myocardial presynaptic sympathetic nerve function in humans in comparison to [11C]meta-hydroxyephedrine (HED).

Background: The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is vitally linked to cardiovascular regulation and disease. SNS imaging has shown prognostic value. HED is the most commonly used PET tracer for evaluation of sympathetic function in humans, but widespread clinical use is limited because of the short half-life of 11C.

Methods: A total of 25 participants (n = 6 healthy; n = 14 ischemic cardiomyopathy, left ventricular [LV] ejection fraction [EF] = 34 ± 5%; and n = 5 nonischemic cardiomyopathy, EF = 33 ± 3%) underwent 2 separate PET imaging visits 8.7 ± 7.6 days apart. On 1 visit, participants underwent dynamic HED PET imaging. On a different visit, participants underwent dynamic FBBG PET imaging. The order of testing was random. HED and FBBG global innervation (retention index [RI] and distribution volume [DV]) and regional denervation (% nonuniformity) were quantified to assess regional presynaptic sympathetic innervations.

Results: FBBG RI (r2 = 0.72; ICC = 0.79; p < 0.0001), DV (r2 = 0.62; ICC = 0.78; p < 0.0001), and regional denervation (r2 = 0.97; ICC = 0.98; p < 0.0001) correlated highly with HED. Average LV RI values were highly similar between HED (7.3 ± 2.4%/min) and FBBG (7.0 ± 1.7%/min; p = 0.33). Post-hoc analysis did not reveal any between-tracer differences on a regional level (17-segment), suggesting equivalent regional distributions in both patients with and without ischemic cardiomyopathy.

Conclusions: FBBG and HED yield equivalent global and regional distributions in both patients with and without ischemic cardiomyopathy. 18F-labeled PET tracers, such as FBBG, are critical for widespread distribution necessary for multicenter clinical trials and to maximize patient impact.

Keywords: ischemic cardiomyopathy; positron emission tomography; sudden cardiac death; sympathetic nervous system.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Humans
  • Positron-Emission Tomography*
  • Predictive Value of Tests


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Carbon-11
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Fluorine-18