Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 60–71 | Cite as

Molecular Imaging of Brain Tumors: A Bridge Between Clinical and Molecular Medicine?

  • B. J. Schaller
  • M. Modo
  • M. Buchfelder
Research Article


As the research on cellular changes has shed invaluable light on the pathophysiology and biochemistry of brain tumors, clinical and experimental use of molecular imaging methods is expanding and allows quantitative assessment. The term molecular imaging is defined as the in vivo characterization and measurement of biologic processes at the cellular and molecular level. Molecular imaging sets forth to probe the molecular abnormalities that are the basis of disease rather than to visualize the end effects of these molecular alterations and, therefore, provides different additional biochemical or molecular information about primary brain tumors compared to histological methods “classical” neuroradiological diagnostic studies. Common clinical indications for molecular imaging contain primary brain tumor diagnosis and identification of the metabolically most active brain tumor reactions (differentiation of viable tumor tissue from necrosis), prediction of treatment response by measurement of tumor perfusion, or ischemia. The interesting key question remains not only whether the magnitude of biochemical alterations demonstrated by molecular imaging reveals prognostic value with respect to survival, but also whether it identifies early disease and differentiates benign from malignant lesions. Moreover, an early identification of treatment success or failure by molecular imaging could significantly influence patient management by providing more objective decision criteria for evaluation of specific therapeutic strategies. Specially, as molecular imaging represents a novel technology for visualizing metabolism and signal transduction to gene expression, reporter gene assays are used to trace the location and temporal level of expression of therapeutic and endogenous genes. Molecular imaging probes and drugs are being developed to image the function of targets without disturbing them and in mass amounts to modify the target’s function as a drug. Molecular imaging helps to close the gap between in vitro and in vivo integrative biology of disease.

Key words

Molecular imaging Brain tumors Positron emission tomography 


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Copyright information

© Academy of Molecular Imaging 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroscience Imaging, Department of Neurological SurgeryUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Psychiatry, Center for the Cellular Basis of Behavior, Neuroimaging Research GroupKing’s CollegeLondonUK

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