Unmixing dynamic PET images with variable specific binding kinetics

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HighlightsAn enhanced factor analysis of dynamic PET images is proposed, which explicitly models the variability of the specific binding factor time-activity-curve.The decomposition relies on a new interpretation for the spatial heterogeneity of PET images.Taking into account the spatial heterogeneity clearly improves the estimation of the specific binding factor and its spatial map.Graphical abstractTo analyze dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) images, various generic multivariate data analysis techniques have been considered in the literature, such as principal component analysis (PCA), independent component analysis (ICA), factor analysis and nonnegative matrix factorization (NMF). Nevertheless, these conventional approaches neglect any possible nonlinear variations in the time activity curves describing the kinetic behavior of tissues with specific binding, which limits their ability to recover a reliable, understandable and interpretable description of the data. This paper proposes an alternative analysis paradigm that accounts for spatial fluctuations in the exchange rate of the tracer between a free compartment and a specifically bound ligand compartment. The method relies on the concept of linear unmixing, usually applied on the hyperspectral domain, which combines NMF with a sum-to-one constraint that ensures an exhaustive description of the mixtures. The spatial variability of the signature corresponding to the specific binding tissue is explicitly modeled through a perturbed component. The performance of the method is assessed on both synthetic and real data and is shown to compete favorably when compared to other conventional analysis methods.

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