Non-human primates (NHPs) are particularly relevant as preclinical models for SARS-CoV-2 infection and nuclear imaging may represent a valuable tool for monitoring infection in this species. We investigated the benefit of computed X-ray tomography (CT) and [18F]-FDG positron emission tomography (PET) to monitor the early phase of the disease in a large cohort (n = 76) of SARS-CoV-2 infected macaques. Following infection, animals showed mild COVID-19 symptoms including typical lung lesions. CT scores at the acute phase reflect the heterogeneity of lung burden following infection. Moreover, [18F]-FDG PET revealed that FDG uptake was significantly higher in the lungs, nasal cavities, lung-draining lymph nodes, and spleen of NHPs by 5 days postinfection compared to pre-infection levels, indicating early local inflammation. The comparison of CT and PET data from previous COVID-19 treatments or vaccines we tested in NHP, to this large cohort of untreated animals demonstrated the value of in vivo imaging in preclinical trials.
Keywords: Medical imaging; Medical microbiology; Virology.
© 2022 The Author(s).