Current Cardiovascular Imaging Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 358–368 | Cite as

Advances in Molecular Imaging: Plaque Imaging

  • Jason M. Tarkin
  • Francis R. Joshi
  • James H. F. RuddEmail author
Cardiac Nuclear Imaging (A Cuocolo, Section Editor)


Recent advances in nuclear plaque imaging aim to achieve noninvasive identification of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaques using positron emission tomography (PET) with 18F-fluorodexoyglucose (FDG) and novel tracers targeting molecular markers of inflammation and other active metabolic processes. Nuclear imaging of atherosclerosis has been demonstrated in multiple vascular beds, including the carotid, aorta, peripheral and coronary arteries—but significant challenges remain, especially for coronary imaging. The advantage of PET over other molecular imaging modalities is its superior sensitivity, however, low spatial resolution means that images must be co-registered with computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for precise anatomical localization of the PET signal. Such hybrid techniques provide the best hope for early detection of prospective culprit lesions—which may, in the coronary vasculature, appear falsely low-risk using conventional coronary angiography or stress imaging. Current hot topics in nuclear plaque imaging include the use of FDG-PET for therapeutic monitoring in drug development, identification of imaging biomarkers to evaluate cardiovascular risk, and the development of novel tracers against an array of biologically important markers of atherosclerosis. The purpose of this article is to review these recent advances in nuclear plaque imaging.


Atherosclerosis Plaque rupture Molecular imaging Nuclear imaging Positron emission tomography 



This work was supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre. Dr Joshi is supported by a British Heart Foundation Clinical Research Training Fellowship and a Raymond and Beverley Sackler PhD Studentship. Dr. Rudd is supported by the British Heart Foundation and HEFCE.

Conflict of Interest

Jason M. Tarkin declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Francis R. Joshi declares that he has no conflict of interest.

James H.F. Rudd declares that he has no conflict of interest.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jason M. Tarkin
    • 1
  • Francis R. Joshi
    • 1
  • James H. F. Rudd
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Cardiovascular MedicineUniversity of Cambridge, Addenbrooke’s HospitalCambridgeUK

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