Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 482–490 | Cite as

Spatial Inhomogeneity of Cardiac Norepinephrine Transport Protein and Meta-[123I]Iodobenzylguanidine Uptake in Swine Myocardial Tissue

  • Claudia KusmicEmail author
  • Assuero GiorgettiEmail author
  • Cristina Barsanti
  • Silvia Burchielli
  • Debora Petroni
  • Annette Kusch
  • Dario Genovesi
  • Luca Menichetti
  • Paolo Marzullo
Research Article



The aim of the present study was to evaluate the expression of the cardiac norepinephrine transporter (NET) in the left ventricle (LV) of healthy pigs and its relationship with regional meta-[123I]iodobenzylguanidine ([123I]MIBG) myocardial uptake.


Experiments were performed on animals injected with [123I]MIBG and acquired 2 h later using an ultrafast CZT gamma camera to assess the regional myocardial uptake. After image acquisition, animals were euthanized; the heart was quickly excised and underwent to an ex vivo single photon emission tomography (SPECT) imaging. Four small samples of tissue were then harvested from mid-walls and apex of the left ventricle; NET densities were evaluated and further normalized for protein loading per cardiac region.


Three variants of NET protein with different molecular weights were detected. The expression of NET was not homogenous in the LV, with the highest density in the inferior wall and the lowest one in the apical area. The regional in vivo [123I]MIBG uptake revealed an analogous trend, showing a good linear relationship with NET expression. Parallel results were obtained from the ex vivo study.


This study elucidates the expression of three different variants of NET proteins into the left ventricular myocardium of a healthy pig. NET expression into the LV was not homogeneous and paralleled by differences in regional [123I]MIBG uptake. Moreover, the correlation and the agreement between measurements of regional expression of NET variants and [123I]MIBG uptake represent a relevant finding for inferences about NET expression in the context of clinical imaging.

Key words

NET [123I]MIBG CZT Cardiac sympathetic innervation Ultrafast cardiac camera 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

All regulatory aspects for laboratory animal care were followed; the study was performed fully in accordance with the European Directive (2010/63/UE) and the Italian law (D.L 26/2014). The study was approved by the Ethical Committee of Experimental Biomedicine Centre, National Research Council, Pisa, Italy, and by the competent national authority (Italian Ministry of Health).

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

  • Claudia Kusmic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Assuero Giorgetti
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cristina Barsanti
    • 1
  • Silvia Burchielli
    • 2
  • Debora Petroni
    • 1
  • Annette Kusch
    • 2
  • Dario Genovesi
    • 2
  • Luca Menichetti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paolo Marzullo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Clinical PhysiologyConsiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)PisaItaly
  2. 2.Fondazione Toscana G. MonasterioPisaItaly

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