Current and novel radiopharmaceuticals for imaging cardiovascular inflammation

Gyu Seong Heo, Deborah Sultan, Yongjian Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the leading cause of death worldwide despite advances in diagnostic technologies and treatment strategies. The underlying cause of most CVD is atherosclerosis, a chronic disease driven by inflammatory reactions. Atherosclerotic plaque rupture could cause arterial occlusion leading to ischemic tissue injuries such as myocardial infarction (MI) and stroke. Clinically, most imaging modalities are based on anatomy and provide limited information about the on-going molecular activities affecting the vulnerability of atherosclerotic lesion for risk stratification of patients. Thus, the ability to differentiate stable plaques from those that are vulnerable is an unmet clinical need. Of various imaging techniques, the radionuclide-based molecular imaging modalities including positron emission tomography and single-photon emission computerized tomography provide superior ability to noninvasively visualize molecular activities in vivo and may serve as a useful tool in tackling this challenge. Moreover, the well-established translational pathway of radiopharmaceuticals may also facilitate the translation of discoveries from benchtop to clinical investigation in contrast to other imaging modalities to fulfill the goal of precision medicine. The relationship between inflammation occurring within the plaque and its proneness to rupture has been well documented. Therefore, an active effort has been significantly devoted to develop radiopharmaceuticals specifically to measure CVD inflammatory status, and potentially elucidate those plaques which are prone to rupture. In the following review, molecular imaging of inflammatory biomarkers will be briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-20
Number of pages17
JournalQuarterly Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Imaging
  • Inflammation
  • Radiopharmaceuticals


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