Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 491–499 | Cite as

Apoptotic PET Imaging of Rat Pulmonary Fibrosis with Small-Molecule Radiotracer

  • Ying Xiong
  • Dahong Nie
  • Shaoyu Liu
  • Hui Ma
  • Shu Su
  • Aixia Sun
  • Jing Zhao
  • Zhanwen Zhang
  • Xianhong XiangEmail author
  • Ganghua TangEmail author
Research Article



The purpose of this study was to assess the potential utility of small-molecule apoptotic radiotracer, 2-(5-[18F]fluoropentyl)-2-methyl malonic acid ([18F]ML-10), for positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) monitoring the progression of pulmonary fibrosis in a rat model.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were used to establish a rat model of pulmonary fibrosis by means of bleomycin (BLM) administration; control rats received saline (n = 12 per group). PET/CT with [18F]ML-10 and 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose ([18F]FDG) was performed in two groups at different stages of pulmonary fibrosis. The fibrotic response and the cell apoptosis were assessed with histologic examination. Differences in the apoptosis rate, fibrotic activity, and the lung uptake of [18F]ML-10 and [18F]FDG between two groups were determined with Student t test.


Compared with control group, BLM group showed a higher lung uptake of [18F]ML-10 at all imaging time points (all P < 0.001). During the fibrotic phase of this disease model (days 21 and 28), the lung uptake of [18F]ML-10 was higher than that of [18F]FDG in the BLM group (all P < 0.001). Moreover, accumulation of [18F]ML-10 in the lung tissues increased in proportion to the apoptosis rate (R2 = 0.9863, P < 0.0001) and fibrotic activity (R2 = 0.9631, P < 0.0001) of rat pulmonary fibrosis. Conversely, no correlation between [18F]FDG uptake and fibrotic activity was found.


[18F]ML-10 PET/CT enabled monitoring the progression of rat pulmonary fibrosis, whereas [18F]FDG PET/CT could not. Implications for noninvasive diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, assessment of fibrotic activity, and evaluation of antifibrotic therapy are expected.

Key words

Pulmonary fibrosis Bleomycin PET/CT [18F]ML-10 [18F]FDG 


Author Contributions

Xianhong Xiang and Ganghua Tang had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Ying Xiong and Dahong Nie contributed to designing this study, collecting samples, carrying out experiments, and writing the manuscript. Shaoyu Liu, Hui Ma, and Shu Su contributed to collecting samples and revising the manuscript. Aixia Sun, Jing Zhao, and Zhanwen Zhang contributed to revising the manuscript. All authors have approved the final article.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81571704, No. 81371584, No. 81671719), the Science and Technology Foundation of Guangdong Province (No. 2014A020210008, No. 2013B021800264, No. 2016B090920087), the Science and Technology Planning Project Foundation of Guangzhou (No. 201604020169, No. 201510010145), and the Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (No. 2015A030313067).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© World Molecular Imaging Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical Imaging and Guangdong Engineering Research Center for Translational Application of Medical Radiopharmaceuticals, The First Affiliated HospitalSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina

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