PET Imaging of Estrogen Receptors Using 18F-Based Radioligands

Methods Mol Biol. 2022;2418:129-151. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-1920-9_9.


In vivo molecular imaging of estrogen receptor alpha (ER) can be performed via positron emission tomography (PET) using ER-specific radioligands, such as 16α-[18F]fluoro-17β-estradiol (18F-FES). 18F-FES is a radiopharmaceutical recently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use with PET imaging to detect ER+ lesions in patients with recurrent or metastatic breast cancer as an adjunct to biopsy. 18F-FES PET imaging has been used in clinical studies and preclinical research to assess whole-body ER protein expression and ligand binding function across multiple metastatic sites, to demonstrate inter-tumoral and temporal heterogeneity of ER expression, to quantify the pharmacodynamic effects of ER antagonist treatment, and to predict endocrine therapy response. 18F-FES PET has also been studied for imaging ER in endometrial and ovarian cancer. This chapter details the experimental protocol for 18F-FES PET imaging of ER in preclinical tumor xenograft models. Consistent adherence to key methodologic details will facilitate obtaining meaningful and reproducible 18F-FES PET preclinical imaging results, which could yield additional insight for clinical trials regarding imaging biomarkers and oncologic therapy.

Keywords: 18F-Fluoroestradiol; Estrogen receptor; Mouse tumor xenograft; Positron emission tomography; Preclinical research; Small animal imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Estradiol
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ovarian Neoplasms*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Estradiol