A prospective, multicenter 18fluorine-fluorodeoxyglucose ( 18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) imaging study was performed to estimate the correlations among arterial FDG uptake and atherosclerotic plaque biomarkers in patients with peripheral artery disease. Inflammation within atherosclerotic plaques is associated with instability of the plaque and future cardiovascular events. Previous studies have shown that 18F-FDG-PET/CT is able to quantify inflammation within carotid artery atherosclerotic plaques, but no studies to date have investigated this correlation in peripheral arteries with immunohistochemical confirmation. Thirty patients across 5 study sites underwent 18F-FDG-PET/CT imaging before SilverHawk atherectomy (FoxHollow Technologies, Redwood City, California) for symptomatic common or superficial femoral arterial disease. Vascular FDG uptake (expressed as target-to-background ratio) was measured in the carotid arteries and aorta and femoral arteries, including the region of atherectomy. Immunohistochemistry was performed on the excised atherosclerotic plaque extracts, and cluster of differentiation 68 (CD68) level as a measure of macrophage content was determined. Correlations between target-to-background ratio of excised lesions, as well as entire arterial regions, and CD68 levels were determined. Imaging was performed during the 2 weeks before surgery in all cases. Twenty-one patients had adequate-quality 18F-FDG-PET/CT peripheral artery images, and 34 plaque specimens were obtained. No significant correlation between lesion target-to-background ratio and CD68 level was observed. There were no significant correlations between CD68 level (as a measure of macrophage content) and FDG uptake in the peripheral arteries in this multicenter study. Differences in lesion extraction technique, lesion size, the degree of inflammation, and imaging coregistration techniques may have been responsible for the failure to observe the strong correlations with vascular FDG uptake observed in previous studies of the carotid artery and in several animal models of atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-45
Number of pages8
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • atherosclerosis
  • inflammation
  • peripheral artery disease


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