Repository logo

Detection of Atherosclerotic Inflammation by $^{68}$Ga-DOTATATE PET Compared to [$^{18}$F]FDG PET Imaging

Published version

Change log


Tarkin, JM 
Joshi, FR 
Evans, NR 
Chowdhury, MM 
Figg, NL 



Inflammation drives atherosclerotic plaque rupture. Although inflammation can be measured using fluorine-18-labeled fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]FDG PET), [18F]FDG lacks cell specificity, and coronary imaging is unreliable because of myocardial spillover.


Objectives This study tested the efficacy of gallium-68-labeled DOTATATE (68Ga-DOTATATE), a somatostatin receptor subtype-2 (SST2)-binding PET tracer, for imaging atherosclerotic inflammation.


We confirmed 68Ga-DOTATATE binding in macrophages and excised carotid plaques. 68Ga-DOTATATE PET imaging was compared to [18F]FDG PET imaging in 42 patients with atherosclerosis.


Target SSTR2 gene expression occurred exclusively in “proinflammatory” M1 macrophages, specific 68Ga-DOTATATE ligand binding to SST2 receptors occurred in CD68-positive macrophage-rich carotid plaque regions, and carotid SSTR2 mRNA was highly correlated with in vivo 68Ga-DOTATATE PET signals (r = 0.89; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.28 to 0.99; p = 0.02). 68Ga-DOTATATE mean of maximum tissue-to-blood ratios (mTBRmax) correctly identified culprit versus nonculprit arteries in patients with acute coronary syndrome (median difference: 0.69; interquartile range [IQR]: 0.22 to 1.15; p = 0.008) and transient ischemic attack/stroke (median difference: 0.13; IQR: 0.07 to 0.32; p = 0.003). 68Ga-DOTATATE mTBRmax predicted high-risk coronary computed tomography features (receiver operating characteristics area under the curve [ROC AUC]: 0.86; 95% CI: 0.80 to 0.92; p < 0.0001), and correlated with Framingham risk score (r = 0.53; 95% CI: 0.32 to 0.69; p <0.0001) and [18F]FDG uptake (r = 0.73; 95% CI: 0.64 to 0.81; p < 0.0001). [18F]FDG mTBRmax differentiated culprit from nonculprit carotid lesions (median difference: 0.12; IQR: 0.0 to 0.23; p = 0.008) and high-risk from lower-risk coronary arteries (ROC AUC: 0.76; 95% CI: 0.62 to 0.91; p = 0.002); however, myocardial [18F]FDG spillover rendered coronary [18F]FDG scans uninterpretable in 27 patients (64%). Coronary 68Ga-DOTATATE PET scans were readable in all patients.


We validated 68Ga-DOTATATE PET as a novel marker of atherosclerotic inflammation and confirmed that 68Ga-DOTATATE offers superior coronary imaging, excellent macrophage specificity, and better power to discriminate high-risk versus low-risk coronary lesions than [18F]FDG. (Vascular Inflammation Imaging Using Somatostatin Receptor Positron Emission Tomography [VISION]; NCT02021188)



atherosclerosis, inflammation, macrophages, molecular imaging, positron emission tomography, somatostatin receptor

Journal Title

Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Royal College of Surgeons of England (unknown)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (unknown)
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EP/N014588/1)
Wellcome Trust (107715/Z/15/Z)
Wellcome Trust (104492/Z/14/Z)
MRC (MC_PC_14116 v2)
British Heart Foundation (FS/16/29/31957)
British Heart Foundation (None)
British Heart Foundation (None)
British Heart Foundation (None)
British Heart Foundation (None)
The Dunhill Medical Trust (None)
CCF (None)
This study was funded by the Wellcome Trust and supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and the Cambridge Clinical Trials Unit. Dr. Tarkin is supported by a Wellcome Trust research training fellowship (104492/Z/14/Z). Dr. Evans is supported by a Dunhill Medical Trust fellowship (RTF44/0114). Dr. Chowdhury is supported by Royal College of Surgeons of England and British Heart Foundation (BHF) fellowships (FS/16/29/31957). Drs. Manavaki and Warburton are supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres. Drs. Yu and Frontini are supported by the BHF (RE/13/6/30180). Dr. Fryer is supported by Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). Dr. Groves is supported by the University College London Hospital NIHR Biomedical Research Centre; and has received grant support from GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Ouwehand’s laboratory is funded by EU-FP7 project Blueprint (Health-F5-2011-282510), BHF (PG-0310-1002 and RG/09/12/28096), and National Health Service Blood and Transplant. Dr. Bennett is supported by NIHR and BHF. Dr. Davenport is supported by research grants from Wellcome Trust (107715/Z/15/Z), Medical Research Council (MC_PC_14116), and BHF (RE-13-6-3180). Dr. Rudd is supported by the NIHR, BHF, Wellcome Trust, and HEFCE.