A reduced liver 18F-FDG uptake may be related to hypoalbuminemia in patients with malnutrition

  • Yoichi Otomi
  • Hideki OtsukaEmail author
  • Kaori Terazawa
  • Mihoko Kondo
  • Yuta Arai
  • Moriaki Yamanaka
  • Maki Otomo
  • Takashi Abe
  • Takayoshi Shinya
  • Masafumi Harada
Original Article



18F-FDG PET/CT is a hybrid imaging method widely used as a useful, noninvasive imaging modality for evaluating various neoplastic diseases. When assessing the tumor uptake, the liver and the mediastinal blood pool are often used as a reference region. In daily clinical practice, the 18F-FDG uptake in the liver sometimes appears to decrease on PET images of patients with malnutrition. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether or not the liver 18F-FDG uptake is decreased in patients with malnutrition.


We retrospectively analyzed 246 patients who underwent 18F-FDG PET/CT from January 2018 to June 2018 and whose blood serum albumin was measured within 1 month of PET/CT. We compared the liver uptake and mediastinal blood uptake of patients with low serum albumin level (< 4.0 g/dl) and hypoalbuminemia (< 3.5 g/dl) with those with a normal serum albumin level (≥ 4.0 g/dl). Correlations between the liver and mediastinal blood uptake and the serum albumin level were also calculated.


The maximum standardized uptake value (SUVmax) and mean standardized uptake value (SUVmean) of the liver in 117 patients with low serum albumin were 3.1 ± 0.5 and 2.3 ± 0.3, respectively, while they were 2.9 ± 0.4, 2.0 ± 0.3 in 29 patients with hypoalbuminemia; these values were all significantly lower than the respective ones (3.4 ± 0.5, 2.5 ± 0.4) in 129 patients with normal serum albumin (all p < 0.001). The SUVmean of the mediastinal blood uptake in patients with hypoalbuminemia and normal serum albumin were 1.6 ± 0.2 and 1.7 ± 0.3, respectively (p = 0.053). The serum albumin level demonstrated a significantly positive, moderate correlation with the liver SUVmean, showing a regression line of y = 0.31x + 1.1 (r = 0.41, p < 0.001).


The liver 18F-FDG uptake tended to decrease in patients with hypoalbuminemia. In the patients with malnutrition, the mediastinal blood pool may be a more stable reference than the liver for evaluating the tumor activity because hypoalbuminemia is considered to less strongly influence the mediastinal blood pool than that in the liver.


Malnutrition Hypoalbuminemia Albumin Liver FDG 




Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No potential conflicts of interest were disclosed.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Nuclear Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyTokushima University HospitalTokushimaJapan

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