Repeatability of brown adipose tissue measurements on FDG PET/CT following a simple cooling procedure for BAT activation

John P. Crandall, Prateek Gajwani, H. O. Joo, Daniel D. Mawhinney, Fred Sterzer, Richard L. Wahl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) is present in a significant number of adult humans and can be activated by exposure to cold. Measurement of active BAT presence, activity, and volume are desirable for determining the efficacy of potential treatments intended to activate BAT. The repeatability of 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) measurements of BAT presence, activity, and volume under controlled conditions has not been extensively studied. Eleven female volunteers underwent double baseline FDG PET imaging performed following a simple, regional cold intervention intended to activate brown fat. The cold intervention involved the lightly-clothed participants intermittently placing their feet on a block of ice while sitting in a cooled room. A repeat study was performed under the same conditions within a target of two weeks. FDG scans were obtained and maximum standardized uptake value adjusted for lean body mass (SULmax), CT Hounsfield units (HU), BAT metabolic volume (BMV), and total BAT glycolysis (TBG) were determined according to the Brown Adipose Reporting Criteria in Imaging STudies (BARCIST) 1.0. A Lin’s concordance correlation (CCC) of 0.80 was found for BMV between test and retest imaging. Intersession BAT SULmax was significantly correlated (r = 0.54; p < 0.05). The session #1 mean SULmax of 4.92 ± 4.49 g/mL was not significantly different from that of session #2 with a mean SULmax of 7.19 ± 7.34 g/mL (p = 0.16). BAT SULmax was highly correlated with BMV in test and retest studies (r 0.96, p < 0.001). Using a simplified ice-block cooling method, BAT was activated in the majority (9/11) of a group of young, lean female participants. Quantitative assessments of BAT SUL and BMV were not substantially different between test and retest imaging, but individual BMV could vary considerably. Intra-session BMV and SULmax were strongly correlated. The variability in estimates of BAT activity and volume on test-retest with FDG should inform sample size choice in studies quantifying BAT physiology and support the dynamic metabolic characteristics of this tissue. A more sophisticated cooling method potentially may reduce variations in test-retest BAT studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0214765
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2019


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