Fluorinated tracers for imaging cancer with positron emission tomography

  • Olivier Couturier
  • André Luxen
  • Jean-François Chatal
  • Jean-Philippe Vuillez
  • Pierre Rigo
  • Roland HustinxEmail author
Review Article


2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (FDG) is currently the only fluorinated tracer used in routine clinical positron emission tomography (PET). Fluorine-18 is considered the ideal radioisotope for PET imaging owing to the low positron energy (0.64 MeV), which not only limits the dose rate to the patient but also results in a relatively short range of emission in tissue, thereby providing high-resolution images. Further, the 110-min physical half-life allows for high-yield radiosynthesis, transport from the production site to the imaging site and imaging protocols that may span hours, which permits dynamic studies and assessment of potentially fairly slow metabolic processes. The synthesis of fluorinated tracers as an alternative to FDG was initially tested using nucleophilic fluorination of the molecule, as performed when radiolabelling with iodine-124 or bromide-76. However, in addition to being long, with multiple steps, this procedure is not recommended for bioactive molecules containing reactive groups such as amine or thiol groups. Radiochemical yields are also often low. More recently, radiosynthesis from prosthetic group precursors, which allows easier radiolabelling of biomolecules, has led to the development of numerous fluorinated tracers. Given the wide availability of 18F, such tracers may well develop into important routine tracers. This article is a review of the literature concerning fluorinated radiotracers recently developed and under investigation for possible PET imaging in cancer patients. Two groups can be distinguished. The first includes “generalist” tracers, i.e. tracers amenable to use in a wide variety of tumours and indications, very similar in this respect to FDG. These are tracers for non-specific cell metabolism, such as protein synthesis, amino acid transport, nucleic acid synthesis or membrane component synthesis. The second group consists of “specific” tracers for receptor expression (i.e. oestrogens or somatostatin), cell hypoxia or bone metabolism.


Positron emission tomography Fluorinated tracers Cancer imaging 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivier Couturier
    • 1
  • André Luxen
    • 2
  • Jean-François Chatal
    • 1
  • Jean-Philippe Vuillez
    • 3
  • Pierre Rigo
    • 4
  • Roland Hustinx
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Nuclear MedicineHôtel DieuNantesFrance
  2. 2.Centre de Recherche du CyclotronUniversity of LiègeLiègeBelgium
  3. 3.Division of Nuclear MedicineGrenobleFrance
  4. 4.Division of Nuclear MedicineHôpital Princesse GraceMonte CarloMonaco
  5. 5.Division of Nuclear MedicineCHULiègeBelgium

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