Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 188–193 | Cite as

PET Imaging of Human Brown Adipose Tissue with the TSPO Tracer [11C]PBR28

  • Chongzhao Ran
  • Daniel S. Albrecht
  • Miriam A. Bredella
  • Jing Yang
  • Jian Yang
  • Steven H. Liang
  • Aaron M. Cypess
  • Marco L. Loggia
  • Nazem Atassi
  • Anna Moore
Brief Article



Brown adipose tissue (BAT) in adult humans has been recently rediscovered and intensively investigated as a new potential therapeutic target for obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, reliable assessment of BAT mass in vivo represents a considerable challenge. The purpose of this investigation is to demonstrate for the first time that human BAT depots can be imaged with a translocator protein (TSPO)-specific positron emission tomography (PET) tracer [11C]PBR28 under thermoneutral conditions.


In this retrospective analysis, we analyzed the images of three healthy volunteers who underwent PET/magnetic resonance (MR) imaging after injection of 14 m Ci of [11C]PBR28 at room temperature. Thirty-minute static PET images were reconstructed from the data obtained 60–90 min after the injection of the tracer.


[11C]PBR28 uptake in the neck/supraclavicular regions was identified, which was parallel to the known distribution pattern of human BAT depots. These areas co-localized with the areas of hyperintensity and corresponded to fat on T1-weighted MR images. Standardized uptake value (SUV) was used to quantify [11C]PBR28 signal in BAT depots. The average (± SD) SUV(mean) and SUVmax for BAT depots was 2.13 (± 0.33) and 3.19 (± 0.34), respectively, while the average SUV(mean) for muscle and subcutaneous adipose tissue was 0.79 (± 0.1) and 0.18 (± 0.04), respectively.


In this brief article, we provide the first evidence suggesting that [11C]PBR28, a widely available TSPO-specific PET tracer, can be used for imaging human BAT mass under thermoneutral conditions.

Key words

Brown adipose tissue TSPO C-11 PBR28 Metabolic disease Thermoneutral conditions 



We thank China Scholarship Council of Chinese Ministry of Education for support (J.Y. and J.Y.). We also thank Alana W. Ross, B.S. for proofreading this manuscript.

Funding Information

This work was partially supported by NIH/NIDDK R56DK108813 award (C.R.).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© World Molecular Imaging Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chongzhao Ran
    • 1
  • Daniel S. Albrecht
    • 2
    • 3
  • Miriam A. Bredella
    • 4
  • Jing Yang
    • 1
  • Jian Yang
    • 1
  • Steven H. Liang
    • 5
  • Aaron M. Cypess
    • 6
  • Marco L. Loggia
    • 2
  • Nazem Atassi
    • 7
  • Anna Moore
    • 1
  1. 1.Molecular Imaging Laboratory, Athinoula. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical ImagingMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  2. 2.Athinoula. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical ImagingMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging & Gordon Center for Medical ImagingMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Division of Musculoskeletal Imaging and InterventionMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular ImagingMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  6. 6.Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Obesity BranchNational Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA
  7. 7.Neurological Clinical Research Institute (NCRI), Department of NeurologyMassachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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