First in man study of [18F]fluoro-PEG-folate PET: a novel macrophage imaging technique to visualize rheumatoid arthritis

Nicki J.F. Verweij, Maqsood Yaqub, Stefan T.G. Bruijnen, S. Pieplenbosch, Marieke M. ter Wee, Gerrit Jansen, Qingshou Chen, Philip S. Low, Albert D. Windhorst, Adriaan A. Lammertsma, Otto S. Hoekstra, Alexandre E. Voskuyl, Conny J. van der Laken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Non-invasive imaging of arthritis activity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients using macrophage PET holds promise for early diagnosis and therapeutic response monitoring. Previously obtained results with macrophage tracer (R)-[11C]PK11195 were encouraging, but the imaging signal could be further improved by reduction of background uptake. Recently, the novel macrophage tracer [18F]fluoro-PEG-folate was developed. This tracer showed excellent targeting of the folate receptor β on activated macrophages in synovial tissue in a preclinical arthritic rat model. We performed three substudies to investigate the biodistribution, potential for imaging arthritis and kinetic properties of [18F]fluoro-PEG-folate in RA patients. Firstly, biodistribution demonstrated fast clearance of [18F]fluoro-PEG-folate from heart and blood vessels and no dose limiting uptake in organs. Secondly, [18F]fluoro-PEG-folate showed uptake in arthritic joints with significantly lower background and hence significantly higher target-to-background ratios as compared to reference macrophage tracer (R)-[11C]PK11195. Lastly, dynamic scanning demonstrated fast tracer uptake in affected joints, reaching a plateau after 1 minute, co-existing with a rapid blood clearance. In conclusion, this first in man study demonstrates the potential of [18F]fluoro-PEG-folate to image arthritis activity in RA with favourable imaging characteristics of rapid clearance and low background uptake, that allow for detection of inflammatory activity in the whole body.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1047
Pages (from-to)1047
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 23 2020


  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid/diagnosis
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes/pharmacokinetics
  • Folate Receptor 2/metabolism
  • Folic Acid/analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • Macrophages/physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Imaging/methods
  • Polyethylene Glycols/pharmacokinetics
  • Positron-Emission Tomography/methods
  • Synovial Membrane/diagnostic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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