The relationship between tumor aggressiveness and cholinergic PET imaging in prostate cancer tissue. A proof-of-concept study

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It was recently shown that high-risk prostate carcinoma (PCa) exhibited parasympathetic neurogenesis. The PET tracer 11C-donepezil is a marker of parasympathetic innervation. Therefore, we studied if parasympathetic nerve density in PCa measured with 11C-donepezil PET correlated with PCa aggressiveness and if metastases could be visualized. Twenty-six patients were included into three groups with varying tumor aggressiveness. Dynamic and static PET scans were performed. Maximal standardized uptake values (SUVmax) were determined in lesions within the prostate, lymph nodes, and bones. SUVmax in primary PCa were compared between groups, and comparisons between SUVmax and Gleason score and Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) were performed. Kinetic modelling was performed and time-activity curves of healthy tissue and tumor tissue fitted and compared. Tumor kinetic parameters were normalized to those of healthy tissue producing ratios of K1 and k2. Median SUVmax in primary PCa was higher in high-grade compared to low-grade PCa (P = 0.052). No correlation was seen between Gleason score and SUVmax (P = 0.28). A trend-level correlation was seen between PSA and SUVmax (P = 0.078). Median SUVmax was 7.7 (4.7-22.5) for suspected lymph node metastases and 8.2 (5.4-14.8) for suspected bone metastases. A significant difference was seen between time-activity tissue curves for low- and high-grade PCa (P = 0.012). Highly significant differences were seen in K1- and k2-ratios between low- and high-grade PCa (P = 0.0006 and P < 0.0001). We showed that 11C-donepezil accumulates in primary PCa and metastases. Simple SUVmax values of the cancer hot spots were higher in high-risk tumors compared to low-risk tumors. Further studies should elucidate the importance of cholinergic neurogenesis for prostate cancer biology.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Volume9
Issue3
Pages (from-to)185-192
Number of pages8
ISSN2160-8407
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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