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J Nucl Med. 2008 Oct;49(10):1651-63. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.108.055442. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

Small-animal SPECT and SPECT/CT: important tools for preclinical investigation.

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Department of Radiology, Center for Molecular and Functional Imaging, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.


The need to study dynamic biologic processes in intact small-animal models of disease has stimulated the development of high-resolution nuclear imaging methods. These methods are capable of clarifying molecular interactions important in the onset and progression of disease, assessing the biologic relevance of drug candidates and potential imaging agents, and monitoring therapeutic effectiveness of pharmaceuticals serially within a single-model system. Single-photon-emitting radionuclides have many advantages in these applications, and SPECT can provide 3-dimensional spatial distributions of gamma- (and x-) ray-emitting radionuclide imaging agents or therapeutics. Furthermore, combining SPECT with CT in a SPECT/CT system can assist in defining the anatomic context of biochemical processes and improve the quantitative accuracy of the SPECT data. Over the past decade, dedicated small-animal SPECT and SPECT/CT systems have been developed in academia and industry. Although significant progress in this arena has been realized through system development and biologic application, further innovation continues to address challenges in camera sensitivity, spatial resolution, and image reconstruction and quantification. The innumerable applications of small-animal SPECT and SPECT/CT in drug development, cardiology, neurology, and oncology are stimulating further investment in education, research, and development of these dedicated small-animal imaging modalities.

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