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Collagen I-PET and MRI in a Rat Lung Injury Model

Longitudinal Imaging Using PET/CT with Collagen-I PET-Tracer and MRI for Assessment of Fibrotic and Inflammatory Lesions in a Rat Lung Injury Model

by Irma Mahmutovic Persson, Nina Fransén Pettersson, Jian Liu, Hanna Falk Håkansson, Anders Örbom, René In ’t Zandt, Ritha Gidlöf, Marie Sydoff, Karin von Wachenfeldt and Lars E. Olsson on behalf of the TRISTAN Consortium

J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(11), 3706. doi: 10.3390/jcm9113706


Non-invasive imaging biomarkers (IBs) are warranted to enable improved diagnostics and follow-up monitoring of interstitial lung disease (ILD) including drug-induced ILD (DIILD). Of special interest are IB, which can characterize and differentiate acute inflammation from fibrosis. The aim of the present study was to evaluate a PET-tracer specific for Collagen-I, combined with multi-echo MRI, in a rat model of DIILD. Rats were challenged intratracheally with bleomycin, and subsequently followed by MRI and PET/CT for four weeks. PET imaging demonstrated a significantly increased uptake of the collagen tracer in the lungs of challenged rats compared to controls. This was confirmed by MRI characterization of the lesions as edema or fibrotic tissue. The uptake of tracer did not show complete spatial overlap with the lesions identified by MRI. Instead, the tracer signal appeared at the borderline between lesion and healthy tissue. Histological tissue staining, fibrosis scoring, lysyl oxidase activity measurements, and gene expression markers all confirmed establishing fibrosis over time. In conclusion, the novel PET tracer for Collagen-I combined with multi-echo MRI, were successfully able to monitor fibrotic changes in bleomycin-induced lung injury. The translational approach of using non-invasive imaging techniques show potential also from a clinical perspective.