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J Nucl Med. 2019 Mar 8. pii: jnumed.118.221994. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.118.221994. [Epub ahead of print]

Reproducibility and comparability of preclinical PET imaging data: A multi-center small animal PET study.

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Department of Preclinical Imaging and Radiopharmacy, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany.
Department of Nuclear Medicine, Hannover Medical School, Germany.
Department of Nuclear Medicine, Klinikum Rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München, Germany.
Biomedical Systems, Center for Health & Bioresources, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH.


The standardization of preclinical imaging is a key factor to ensure the reliability, reproducibility, validity and translatability of preclinical data. However, preclinical standardization has been slowly progressing in recent years and has mainly been performed within a single institution, whereas little has been done in regards to multi-center standardization between facilities. This study aims to investigate the comparability among preclinical imaging facilities in terms of PET data acquisition and analysis. In the first step, basic PET scans were performed in four different preclinical imaging facilities to compare their standard imaging protocol for 18F-FDG. In the second step, the influence of the personnel performing the experiments and the experimental equipment used in the experiment were compared. In the third step, the influence of the image analysis on the reproducibility and comparability of the acquired data was determined. Distinct differences in the uptake behavior of all four protocols were determined for the investigated organs (brain, left ventricle, liver and muscle) due to different animal handling procedures before and during the scans (e.g., fasting vs. nonfasting, glucose levels, temperature regulation vs. constant temperature warming, etc.). Significant differences in the uptake behavior in the brain were detected when the same imaging protocol was utilized but executed by different personnel and using different experimental animal handling equipment. An influence of the person analyzing the data was detected for most of the organs, when the VOIs were manually drawn by the investigators. Co-registration of the PET to an MRI image and drawing the VOI based on anatomical information yielded reproducible results among investigators. It has been demonstrated that there is a huge demand for standardization among multiple institutions.


PET; Quality Assurance; comparability; reliability; reproducibility; small animal PET; standardization


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