Molecular Imaging and Biology

, 11:460 | Cite as

Imaging Correlates of Differential Expression of Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase in Human Brain Tumors

  • Carlos E. A. Batista
  • Csaba JuhászEmail author
  • Otto Muzik
  • William J. Kupsky
  • Geoffrey Barger
  • Harry T. Chugani
  • Sandeep Mittal
  • Sandeep Sood
  • Pulak K. Chakraborty
  • Diane C. Chugani
Research Article



Tryptophan catabolism via the kynurenine pathway, mediated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO), is a mechanism involved in tumor immunoresistance. Positron emission tomography (PET) with α-[11C]methyl-L-tryptophan (AMT) can quantify transport and metabolism of tryptophan in infiltrating gliomas and glioneuronal tumors. In the present study, we investigated whether increased tryptophan metabolism in brain tumors measured by PET is related to expression of IDO in resected brain tumor specimens.


IDO expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry in tumor specimens from 15 patients (median age, 34 years) with primary brain tumors who underwent AMT PET scanning before tumor resection. Patterns of IDO expression were compared between low- and high-grade tumors and also to AMT transport and metabolism measured on PET.


IDO immunoreactivity was seen in tumor cells in six of seven low-grade tumors but only in one of eight high-grade tumors (p = 0.01); three of these latter tumors showed endothelial staining only. Low-grade neoplasms showed lower transport rate (p < 0.01) but higher metabolic rate (p = 0.003) for AMT as compared to high-grade tumors. AMT metabolic rates were lower in tumor samples with no or minimal IDO expression as compared to those with widespread IDO staining (p = 0.017).


Low-grade tumors show widespread IDO expression, while IDO expression in high-grade brain tumors can be absent or largely confined to endothelial cells. AMT PET can be useful to identify brain tumors with different profiles of IDO expression, thus providing a useful imaging marker for emerging treatments targeting tumor IDO activity.

Key words

Glioma Positron emission tomography Tryptophan Indoleamine 2,3-Dioxygenase Immunohistochemistry 



The authors thank Galina Rabkin, CNMT, Angela Wigeluk, CNMT, and Mei-li Lee, MS, for their technical assistance in performing the PET studies. They also thank Ms. Barbara Pruetz from the Department of Pathology for her expert assistance in the immunohistochemistry studies. The study was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA-12341, to C. Juhasz).


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Copyright information

© Academy of Molecular Imaging 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos E. A. Batista
    • 1
    • 7
  • Csaba Juhász
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
    Email author
  • Otto Muzik
    • 1
    • 3
    • 7
  • William J. Kupsky
    • 4
  • Geoffrey Barger
    • 2
    • 6
  • Harry T. Chugani
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 7
  • Sandeep Mittal
    • 5
    • 6
  • Sandeep Sood
    • 1
    • 5
  • Pulak K. Chakraborty
    • 7
  • Diane C. Chugani
    • 1
    • 3
    • 7
  1. 1.Carman and Ann Adams Department of Pediatrics, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurology, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiology, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Department of Pathology, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  5. 5.Department of Neurosurgery, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  6. 6.Karmanos Cancer Institute, School of MedicineWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA
  7. 7.PET CenterChildren’s Hospital of MichiganDetroitUSA

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