PET Imaging May Provide a Novel Biomarker and Understanding of Right Ventricular Dysfunction in Patients With Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

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Background—The clinical course in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is variable, and there is limited information on the determinants and progression of right ventricular (RV) dysfunction. The objective is to develop PET metabolic imaging of the RV as a noninvasive tool in patients with PAH.Methods and Results—We performed PET scanning in 16 patients with idiopathic PAH (age, 41±14 years, 82% women) using 13N-NH3 for perfusion imaging and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose for metabolic imaging. The myocardium was divided into 6 regions of interest (3 left ventricular [LV], 3 RV), and time-activity curves were generated. A 2- compartment model was used to calculate myocardial blood flow (MBF), and Patlak analysis was used to calculate the rate of myocardial glucose uptake (MGU). All patients underwent cardiac catheterization, cardiac MRI, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing with gas exchange. MBF, MGU, and the ratio of RV/LV MGU were correlated to clinical parameters. Pulmonary artery (PA) pressure was 79±19/30±8 mm Hg (mean, 48±10 mm Hg). MBF was 0.84±0.33 mL/g per minute for the LV and 0.45±0.14 mL/g per minute for the RV. Mean MGU was 136±72 nmol/g per minute for the LV and 96±69 nmol/g per minute for the RV. The ratio of RV/LV MGU correlated significantly with PA systolic (r=0.75, P=0.0085) and mean (r=0.87, P=0.001) pressure and marginally with maximum oxygen consumption (r=−0.59, P=0.05). RV free wall MGU also correlated well with mean PA pressure (r=0.66, P=0.03).Conclusions—PET scanning with 13N-NH3 and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose is a feasible modality for quantifying RV blood flow and metabolism in patients with idiopathic PAH.

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