MicroPET reveals intrauterine infection

May 19, 2006

PET imaging is moving closer to clinical use for diagnosis of intrauterine infection. For now, researchers have made progress using microPET in animals to noninvasively visualize for the first time metabolic changes associated with intrauterine infection.

PET imaging is moving closer to clinical use for diagnosis of intrauterine infection. For now, researchers have made progress using microPET in animals to noninvasively visualize for the first time metabolic changes associated with intrauterine infection.

"Much of preterm birth can be associated with infection and inflammation," said Dr. Hyagriv Simhan, an assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. "Using this technology gives us an opportunity to evaluate therapeutic strategies with respect to the inflammatory response and may lead to future clinical application for the detection of fetal inflammation."

Simhan and colleagues used PET imaging to evaluate biomarkers employed to trace the action of amniotic fluid infection in monkeys. Six animals were randomly assigned to infection and control groups.

All animals underwent microPET imaging 24 hours after amniocentesis with two tracers: oxygen-15-labeled water for blood flow and carbon-11 PK11195 to label activated macrophages and microglia. All animals underwent a second amniocentesis for culture and cytokines at the time of the microPET.

The PET imaging allowed the researchers to see evidence of inflammation in infected animals, all of which delivered preterm. By contrast, control animals experienced normal pregnancies.

The investigators also discovered decreased activity in fetal brain glucose metabolism in the infected animals. While they don't know what the reduced metabolism means, the ability to visualize the changes is significant, Simhan reported in March at the annual meeting of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation in Toronto.

For more information from the Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Enhanced ultrasound reveals gynecological disorders

Volumetric brain MR helps evaluate premature babies