Molecular imaging phenotyping for selecting and monitoring radioligand therapy of neuroendocrine neoplasms

Amir Iravani, Ashwin Singh Parihar, Timothy Akhurst, Rodney J. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neuroendocrine neoplasia (NEN) is an umbrella term that includes a widely heterogeneous disease group including well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumours (NETs), and aggressive neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs). The site of origin of the NENs is linked to the intrinsic tumour biology and is predictive of the disease course. It is understood that NENs demonstrate significant biologic heterogeneity which ultimately translates to widely varying clinical presentations, disease course and prognosis. Thus, significant emphasis is laid on the pre-therapy evaluation of markers that can help predict tumour behavior and dynamically monitors the response during and after treatment. Most well-differentiated NENs express somatostatin receptors (SSTRs) which make them appropriate for peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). However, the treatment outcomes of PRRT depend heavily on the adequacy of patient selection by molecular imaging phenotyping not only utilizing pre-treatment SSTR PET but 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) PET to provide insights into the intra- or inter-tumoural heterogeneity of the metastatic disease. Molecular imaging phenotyping may go beyond patient selection and provide useful information during and post-treatment for monitoring of temporal heterogeneity of the disease and dynamically risk-stratify patients. In addition, advances in the understanding of genomic-phenotypic classifications of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas led to an archetypical example in precision medicine by utilizing molecular imaging phenotyping to guide radioligand therapy. Novel non-SSTR based peptide receptors have also been explored diagnostically and therapeutically to overcome the tumour heterogeneity. In this paper, we review the current molecular imaging modalities that are being utilized for the characterization of the NENs with special emphasis on their role in patient selection for radioligand therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalCancer Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Molecular imaging
  • Neuroendocrine tumours
  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Radioligand therapy
  • Somatostatin receptor


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