Choice of anesthesia and data analysis method strongly increases sensitivity of 18F-FDG PET imaging during experimental epileptogenesis
Alterations in brain glucose metabolism detected by 2-deoxy-2-[18F]-fluoro-D-glucose (18F-FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) may serve as an early predictive biomarker and treatment target for epileptogenesis. Here, we aimed to investigate changes in cerebral glucose metabolism before induction of epileptogenesis, during epileptogenesis as well as during chronic epilepsy. As anesthesia is usually unavoidable for preclinical PET imaging and influences the distribution of the radiotracer, four different protocols were compared.
We investigated 18F-FDG uptake phase in conscious rats followed by a static scan as well as dynamic scans under continuous isoflurane, medetomidine-midazolam-fentanyl (MMF), or propofol anesthesia. Furthermore, we applied different analysis approaches: atlas-based regional analysis, statistical parametric mapping, and kinetic analysis.
At baseline and compared to uptake in conscious rats, isoflurane and propofol anesthesia resulted in decreased cortical 18F-FDG uptake while MMF anesthesia led to a globally decreased tracer uptake. During epileptogenesis, MMF anesthesia was clearly best distinctive for visualization of prominently increased glucometabolism in epilepsy-related brain areas. Kinetic modeling further increased sensitivity, particularly for continuous isoflurane anesthesia. During chronic epilepsy, hypometabolism affecting more or less the whole brain was detectable with all protocols.
This study reveals evaluation of anesthesia protocols for preclinical 18F-FDG PET imaging as a critical step in the study design. Together with an appropriate data analysis workflow, the chosen anesthesia protocol may uncover otherwise concealed disease-associated regional glucometabolic changes.