Brain PET Imaging in Small Animals: Tracer Formulation, Data Acquisition, Image Reconstruction, and Data Analysis

Methods Mol Biol. 2024:2729:269-284. doi: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3499-8_16.


Positron emission tomography (PET) is a noninvasive functional imaging modality that involves in vivo detection of spatiotemporal changes in the binding of radioactive pharmaceuticals (a.k.a. PET tracers) to their target sites in different organs. The development of new PET tracers commonly involves their preclinical evaluation in small rodents. Moreover, laboratory animal PET research is now being used with progressively greater frequency to complement human PET studies, to investigate in greater depth the underlying pathophysiology of human diseases, and to monitor the efficiency of novel therapeutic interventions. Here we describe the steps toward a successful small animal PET study, from tracer formulation and image acquisition to data reconstruction and analysis of the acquired scans, with a particular focus on its utility for the brain.

Keywords: PET image acquisition; PET image analysis; PET image reconstruction; PET tracers; Positron emission tomography; Preclinical imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Data Analysis
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography* / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals


  • Radiopharmaceuticals