Molecular imaging of lymphoid organs and immune activation by positron emission tomography with a new [18F]-labeled 2′-deoxycytidine analog
Monitoring immune function with molecular imaging could have a considerable impact on the diagnosis and treatment evaluation of immunological disorders and therapeutic immune responses. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a molecular imaging modality with applications in cancer and other diseases. PET studies of immune function have been limited by a lack of specialized probes. We identified [(18)F]FAC (1-(2′-deoxy-2′-[(18)F]fluoroarabinofuranosyl) cytosine) by differential screening as a new PET probe for the deoxyribonucleotide salvage pathway. [(18)F]FAC enabled visualization of lymphoid organs and was sensitive to localized immune activation in a mouse model of antitumor immunity. [(18)F]FAC microPET also detected early changes in lymphoid mass in systemic autoimmunity and allowed evaluation of immunosuppressive therapy. These data support the use of [(18)F]FAC PET for immune monitoring and suggest a wide range of clinical applications in immune disorders and in certain types of cancer.