Update on amino acid PET of brain tumours

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Purpose of review

The aim of this study was to give an update on the emerging role of PET using radiolabelled amino acids in the diagnostic workup and management of patients with cerebral gliomas and brain metastases.

Recent findings

Numerous studies have demonstrated the potential of PET using radiolabelled amino acids for differential diagnosis of brain tumours, delineation of tumour extent for treatment planning and biopsy guidance, differentiation between tumour progression and recurrence versus treatment-related changes, and for monitoring of therapy. The Response Assessment in Neuro-Oncology (RANO) working group – an international effort to develop new standardized response criteria for clinical trials in brain tumours – has recently recommended the use of amino acid PET imaging for brain tumour management in addition to MRI at every stage of disease. With the introduction of F-18 labelled amino acids, a broader clinical application has become possible, but is still hampered by the lack of regulatory approval and of reimbursement in many countries.


PET using radiolabelled amino acids is a rapidly evolving method that can significantly enhance the diagnostic value of MRI in brain tumours. Current developments suggest that this imaging technique will become an indispensable tool in neuro-oncological centres in the near future.

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