Toward Quantitative Multisite Preclinical Imaging Studies in Acute Myocardial Infarction: Evaluation of the Immune-Fibrosis Axis

Maja Strunk, Gyu Seong Heo, Annika Hess, Hannah Luehmann, Tobias L. Ross, Robert J. Gropler, Frank M. Bengel, Yongjian Liu, James T. Thackeray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The immune-fibrosis axis plays a critical role in cardiac remodeling after acute myocardial infarction. Imaging approaches to monitor temporal inflammation and fibroblast activation in mice have seen wide application in recent years. However, the repeatability of quantitative measurements remains challenging, particularly across multiple imaging centers. We aimed to determine reproducibility of quantitative inflammation and fibroblast activation images acquired at 2 facilities after myocardial infarction in mice. Methods: Mice underwent coronary artery ligation and sequential imaging with 68Ga-DOTA-ECL1i to assess chemokine receptor type 2 expression at 3 d after myocardial infarction and 68Ga-FAPI-46 to assess fibroblast activation protein expression at 7 d after myocardial infarction. Images were acquired at 1 center using either a local or a consensus protocol developed with the second center; the protocols differed in the duration of isoflurane anesthesia and the injected tracer dose. A second group of animals were scanned at the second site using the consensus protocol. Image analyses performed by each site and just by 1 site were also compared. Results: The uptake of 68Ga-DOTA-ECL1i in the infarct territory tended to be higher when the consensus protocol was used (P 5 0.03). No difference was observed between protocol acquisitions for 68Ga-FAPI-46. Compared with the local protocol, the consensus protocol decreased variability between individual animals. When a matched consensus protocol was used, the 68Ga-DOTA-ECL1i infarct territory percentage injected dose per gram of tissue was higher on images acquired at site B than on those acquired at site A (P 5 0.006). When normalized to body weight as SUV, this difference was mitigated. Both the percentage injected dose per gram of tissue and the SUV were comparable between sites for 68Ga-FAPI-46. Image analyses at the sites differed significantly, but this difference was mitigated when all images were analyzed at site A. Conclusion: The application of a standardized acquisition protocol may lower variability within datasets and facilitate comparison of molecular radiotracer distribution between preclinical imaging centers. Like clinical studies, multicenter preclinical studies should use centralized core-based image analysis to maximize reproducibility across sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nuclear Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 10 2024


  • fibroblast activation
  • inflammation
  • macrophage
  • myocardial infarction
  • reproducibility


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