Review Article

European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 615-630

First online:

Non-invasive in vivo imaging of myocardial apoptosis and necrosis

  • Albert FlotatsAffiliated withHospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
  • , Ignasi CarrióAffiliated withHospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau Email author 

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Myocardial necrosis plays an important role in the pathogenesis of various cardiovascular disorders and can result from different myocardial insults. Its non-invasive identification and localisation therefore may help in the diagnosis of these disorders, as well as in prognosis and assessment of treatment response. Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is important in the spectrum of myocardial damage since it is gradually becoming more apparent that cell death may begin as apoptosis and not as necrosis. First attempts to directly visualise the area of myocardial necrosis were based on recognition of myocardial infarction with "hot spot imaging agents" in patients with chest pain. Since then, the study of myocardial necrosis with gamma imaging agents has gone beyond the detection of myocardial infarction, and attempts have been made to diagnose other cardiovascular disorders associated with cardiac cell death such as heart transplant rejection, myocarditis, cardiotoxicity and cardiomyopathies. Traditionally, two hot spot imaging agents have been used for the detection of myocardial necrosis, 99mTc-pyrophosphate and 111In-antimyosin. In addition, preliminary studies have demonstrated promising results with 99mTc-glucarate. Recently, 99mTc-annexin V has been successfully used for non-invasive gamma imaging of apoptosis after acute myocardial infarction, acute myocardial ischaemia, acute cardiac allograft rejection and malignant intracardiac tumours. This review article focusses on the characteristics of these different myocardial necrotic and apoptotic markers and compares their role in the assessment of myocardial damage.


Myocardial necrosis Apoptosis 99mTc-pyrophosphate 111In-antimyosin 99mTc-glucarate 99mTc-annexin