, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 340-347,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Monitoring Response to Radiotherapy in Human Squamous Cell Cancer Bearing Nude Mice: Comparison of 2′-deoxy-2′-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose (FDG) and 3′-[18F]fluoro-3′-deoxythymidine (FLT)



The uptake of 3′-[18F]fluoro-3′-deoxythymidine (FLT), a proliferation marker, was measured before and during fractionated radiotherapy to evaluate the potential of FLT-positron emission tomography (PET) imaging as an indicator of tumor response compared to 2′-deoxy-2′-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose (FDG).

Materials and Methods

Nude mice bearing established human head and neck xenografts (HNX-OE; nu/nu mice) were locally irradiated (three fractions/week; 22 Gy) using a 150-kVp unit. Multiple FDG- and FLT-PET scans were acquired during treatment. Tumor volume was determined regularly, and tissue was analyzed for biomarkers involved in tracer uptake.


Both groups revealed a significant decline in tumor volume (P < 0.01) compared to untreated tumors. For FDG as well as for FLT, a significant decline in retention was observed at day 4. For FLT, most significant decline in retention was observed at day 12; whereas, for FDG, this was already noted at day 4. Maximum decline in tumor-to-nontumor ratios (T/NT) for FDG and FLT was 42 ± 18% and 49 ± 16% (mean ± SD), respectively. FLT uptake was higher then that of FDG. For FLT, statistical significant correlations were found for both tumor volume at baseline and at day 29 with T/NT and ΔT/NT. All tumors demonstrated expression of glucose transporter-1, thymidine kinase-1, and hexokinase II. No differences were found for amount of tumor cells and necrosis at the end of treatment.


This new experimental in vivo model supports the promise of using FLT-PET, as with FDG-PET, to monitor response to external radiotherapy. This warrants further clinical studies to compare these two tracers especially in cancers treated with radiotherapy.