Aquaporin Positron Emission Tomography Differentiates Between Grade III and IV Human Astrocytoma

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Aquaporin (AQP) water channels play a significant role in mesenchymal microvascular proliferation and infiltrative growth. AQPs are highly expressed in malignant astrocytomas, and a positive correlation is observed between their expression levels and histological tumor grade.


To examine the utility of aquaporin positron emission tomography (PET) for differentiating between astrocytoma grade III and grade IV using the AQP radioligand [11C]TGN-020.


Fifteen astrocytoma patients, grade III (n = 7) and grade IV (n = 8) and 10 healthy volunteers underwent [11C]TGN-020 aquaporin PET imaging. Surgical tissues of astrocytoma patients were examined for histopathological grading using the WHO classification standard and expression of AQP1 and AQP4 immunohistochemically.


Mean standardized uptake values of astrocytoma grade III and IV (0.51 ± 0.11 vs 1.50 ± 0.44, respectively) were higher than normal white matter (0.17 ± 0.02, P < .001) for both tumor grades. Importantly, mean standardized uptake values of astrocytoma grade IV were significantly higher than grade III (P < .01).


Our study demonstrated that [11C]TGN-020 aquaporin PET imaging differentiated between astrocytoma grades III and IV. We suggest its clinical application as a noninvasive diagnostic tool would lead to advancements in the management of these malignant brain tumors.

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