Molecular imaging of brown adipose tissue in health and disease

  • Matthias Bauwens
  • Roel Wierts
  • Bart van Royen
  • Jan Bucerius
  • Walter Backes
  • Felix Mottaghy
  • Boudewijn Brans
Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00259-013-2611-8

Cite this article as:
Bauwens, M., Wierts, R., van Royen, B. et al. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging (2014) 41: 776. doi:10.1007/s00259-013-2611-8

Abstract

Purpose

Brown adipose tissue (BAT) has transformed from an interfering tissue in oncological 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) to an independent imaging research field. This review takes the perspective from the imaging methodology on which human BAT research has come to rely on heavily.

Methods

This review analyses relevant PubMed-indexed publications that discuss molecular imaging methods of BAT. In addition, reported links between BAT and human diseases such as obesity are discussed, and the possibilities for imaging in these fields are highlighted. Radiopharmaceuticals aiming at several different biological mechanisms of BAT are discussed and evaluated.

Results

Prospective, dedicated studies allow visualization of BAT function in a high percentage of human subjects. BAT dysfunction has been implicated in obesity, linked with diabetes and associated with cachexia and atherosclerosis. Presently, 18F-FDG PET/CT is the most useful tool for evaluating therapies aiming at BAT activity. In addition to 18F-FDG, other radiopharmaceuticals such as 99mTc-sestamibi, 123I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG), 18F-fluorodopa and 18F-14(R,S)-[18F]fluoro-6-thia-heptadecanoic acid (FTHA) may have a potential for visualizing other aspects of BAT activity. MRI methods are under continuous development and provide the prospect of functional imaging without ionizing radiation.

Conclusion

Molecular imaging of BAT can be used to quantitatively assess different aspects of BAT metabolic activity.

Keywords

Brown adipose tissue Molecular imaging PET/CT Radiopharmaceuticals Obesity Cachexia 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Bauwens
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roel Wierts
    • 1
  • Bart van Royen
    • 3
  • Jan Bucerius
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • Walter Backes
    • 3
  • Felix Mottaghy
    • 1
    • 4
  • Boudewijn Brans
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical Imaging, Division of Nuclear MedicineMUMCMaastrichtNetherlands
  2. 2.Research School NUTRIMMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtNetherlands
  3. 3.Department of Medical Imaging, Division of RadiologyMUMCMaastrichtNetherlands
  4. 4.Division of Nuclear MedicineUniklinikum AachenAachenGermany
  5. 5.Research School CARIMMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtNetherlands

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