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Neuroimage. 2003 Apr;18(4):975-89.

Linear regression with spatial constraint to generate parametric images of ligand-receptor dynamic PET studies with a simplified reference tissue model.

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  • 1Department of Radiology and Radiological Science, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21287, USA.


For the quantitative analysis of ligand-receptor dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) studies, it is often desirable to apply reference tissue methods that eliminate the need for arterial blood sampling. A common technique is to apply a simplified reference tissue model (SRTM). Applications of this method are generally based on an analytical solution of the SRTM equation with parameters estimated by nonlinear regression. In this study, we derive, based on the same assumptions used to derive the SRTM, a new set of operational equations of integral form with parameters directly estimated by conventional weighted linear regression (WLR). In addition, a linear regression with spatial constraint (LRSC) algorithm is developed for parametric imaging to reduce the effects of high noise levels in pixel time activity curves that are typical of PET dynamic data. For comparison, conventional weighted nonlinear regression with the Marquardt algorithm (WNLRM) and nonlinear ridge regression with spatial constraint (NLRRSC) were also implemented using the nonlinear analytical solution of the SRTM equation. In contrast to the other three methods, LRSC reduces the percent root mean square error of the estimated parameters, especially at higher noise levels. For estimation of binding potential (BP), WLR and LRSC show similar variance even at high noise levels, but LRSC yields a smaller bias. Results from human studies demonstrate that LRSC produces high-quality parametric images. The variance of R(1) and k(2) images generated by WLR, WNLRM, and NLRRSC can be decreased 30%-60% by using LRSC. The quality of the BP images generated by WLR and LRSC is visually comparable, and the variance of BP images generated by WNLRM can be reduced 10%-40% by WLR or LRSC. The BP estimates obtained using WLR are 3%-5% lower than those estimated by LRSC. We conclude that the new linear equations yield a reliable, computationally efficient, and robust LRSC algorithm to generate parametric images of ligand-receptor dynamic PET studies.

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