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J Nucl Med. 2003 Aug;44(8):1253-62.

Severity of bone marrow involvement in patients with Gaucher's disease evaluated by scintigraphy with 99mTc-sestamibi.

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  • 1Regional Center of Nuclear Medicine, University of Pisa Medical School, Via Roma 67, I-56126 Pisa, Italy.


Gaucher's disease is a lysosomal storage disorder due to a genetically transmitted deficiency of the enzyme glucocerebrosidase. In the most common form of the disease (type 1), accumulation of glucosylceramide in the reticuloendothelial cells of liver, spleen, and bone marrow leads to visceromegaly, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and osteopenia. Skeletal manifestations secondary to infiltration of the bone marrow by Gaucher's cells are detectable by radiography only in advanced stages. Imaging of bone marrow involvement can be performed indirectly by magnetic resonance techniques or by bone marrow scintigraphy with radiocolloids. However, both procedures lack specificity because the normal bone marrow, rather than the pathologic process, is imaged. The aim of this study was to assess the reliability of (99m)Tc-sestamibi scintigraphy for direct evaluation of bone marrow involvement.


Seventy-two patients with type 1 and 2 patients with type 3 Gaucher's disease (35 males, 39 females) were enrolled in the study. The mean age +/- SD was 31.9 +/- 16.5 y (range, 3-76 y), and the average duration of the disease manifestations when performing scintigraphy was 12.95 y (median, 10.5 y; range, 0-44 y). Forty-three of 74 patients had never received enzyme replacement therapy (ERT), whereas 31 patients were already being treated with ERT. (99m)Tc-Sestamibi was injected intravenously (6-8 MBq/kg of body weight) and imaging was recorded at the lower limbs 30 min after injection, at the plateau of tracer accumulation in the involved bone marrow. The scans were evaluated visually, assigning a semiquantitative score based on the extension and intensity of uptake in the bone marrow of the lower limbs (0 = no uptake; 8 = maximum uptake). The scintigraphic score was entered into complex statistical analysis, which included a series of clinical and blood chemistry parameters defining overall severity of the disease.


(99m)Tc-Sestamibi scintigraphy showed that 71 of 74 patients had some degree of bone marrow involvement. The scintigraphic score was highly correlated with an overall clinical severity score index (SSI) and with various parameters contributing to the SSI, either positively or negatively. The highest correlation of the scintigraphic score was found with an overall biochemical marker of disease severity (serum chitotriosidase). ERT-naive patients showed high correlation of the scintigraphic score with the clinical SSI, with a radiographically based score, and with serum chitotriosidase. In the ERT-treated patients, the scintigraphic score was correlated with the clinical SSI, with hepatomegaly, and with hemoglobin.


(99m)Tc-Sestamibi uptake reliably identifies bone marrow infiltration by Gaucher's cells. The scintigraphic score is helpful for defining the severity of bone marrow involvement and for comparing patients. (99m)Tc-Sestamibi scintigraphy, which provides topographic information about the sites involved by the disease, is highly correlated with other parameters of disease severity and appears to correlate with response to ERT.

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