Molecular imaging of gliomas with PET: Opportunities and limitations

Neuro-Oncology 13(8):806–819, 2011. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nor054

Neuroimaging enables the noninvasive evaluation of glioma and is considered to be one of the key factors for individualized therapy and patient management, since accurate diagnosis and demarcation of viable tumor tissue is required for treatment planning as well as assessment of treatment response. Conventional imaging techniques like MRI and CT reveal morphological information but are of limited value for the assessment of more specific and reproducible information about biology and activity of the tumor. Molecular imaging with PET is increasingly implemented in neuro-oncology, since it provides additional metabolic information of the tumor, both for patient management as well as for evaluation of newly developed therapeutics.Different molecular processes have been proposed to be useful, like glucose consumption, expression of amino acid transporters, proliferation rate, membrane biosynthesis, and hypoxia. Thus, PET might help neuro-oncologists gain further insights into tumor biology by “true molecular imaging” as well as understand treatment-related phenomena. This review describes the method of PET acquisition as well as the tracers used to image biological processes in gliomas. Furthermore, it considers the clinical impact of PET on the use of currently available radiotracers, which were shown to be potentially valuable for discrimination between neoplastic and nonneoplastic tissue, as well as on tumor grading, determinination of treatment response, and providing an outlook toward further developments.

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