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Nucl Med Biol. 2007 Nov;34(8):933-8. Epub 2007 Sep 21.

Labeling of autologous monocytes with 99mTc-HMPAO at very high specific radioactivity.

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  • 1Department of Nuclear Medicine, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, P.O. Box 22700, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Rheumatoid arthritis of joints involves the accumulation of monocyte-derived macrophages in the affected synovial tissue. This process of cell migration can be portrayed scintigraphically in order to monitor noninvasive effects of therapy on the progress of the disease. Scintigraphic detection of inflammation by means of technetium 99m-hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (99mTc-HMPAO)-labeled leukocytes provides a classic example. Present state-of-the-art methods in cell biology allow the isolation of cells like lymphocytes or monocytes, which are less abundant than main blood constituents but, instead, harbor particular functions like specific homing properties. To facilitate scintigraphic imaging of the cell functions involved, the relatively small population of cells must be labeled to radioactive yields as high as possible. We demonstrate that autologous monocytes isolated from 100 ml of peripheral blood can be radiolabeled to a yield of 10 (instead of 1) Bq per cell, allowing scintigraphic analysis of rheumatoid arthritis up to 20 h post injection of patients. The method is based on the instantaneous distribution of lipophilic 99mTc-HMPAO between the hydrophobic inside of cells and the hydrophilic (aqueous) surrounding of cells, followed by decomposition of the radiopharmaceutical into compounds that are unable to cross the cellular membrane. The procedure provides a method of choice for cell-mediated scintigraphy at low availability of cells with the correct homing properties.

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