MicroPET Imaging

Small animal PET experiments can be performed using a variety of dedicated small animal scanners (ATLAS, RatPET, microPET). The Center for Translational Neuroimaging has a microPET camera which, like its clinical counterpart, also measures the concentration and movement of a radiotracer in a living animal. MicroPET offers the unique opportunity to image small animal models of diseases, including genetically engineered animals. It is a functional imaging modality at molecular level and provides valuable insights into biochemical, physiological, pathological or pharmacological process in vivo. Data can be obtained noninvasively, repeatedly, and quantitatively in the same animal.

Researcher Peter Thanos (center) shown with two of his graduate students using the microPET scanner.

Current applications include a diverse field including perfusion, metabolism and substrate utilization in various vital organs including heart and brain, gene expression and stem cell tracking, neurotransmitter and receptors, neural activation and plasticity, targeting tumor antigens and elucidating tumor biology such as angiogenesis, hypoxia and apoptosis.

Recent research efforts find its application in a wide area, ranging from basic insights into the normal physiology and disease processes to drug and radiotracer development and gene therapy. Research can also be conducted in the field of imaging physics and scanner development, image and data analysis, attenuation correction and reconstruction techniques, and tracer kinetics and modeling. In particular, the microPET R4 scanner, for the scanning of rats and mice, has an 8 cm axial field of view and < 2.0 mm spatial resolution and includes a dual 1GHz Pentium PC. A second PC ( Dual 600 MHz ) is available for microPET data analysis and iterative reconstruction using OSEM and a LINUX machine is available for other iterative reconstruction methods like MAP and MLEM.

The microPET laboratory itself includes a computer-based well counter (NaI crystals), centrifuges, and a blood glucose analyzer. Our staff have built up tremendous expertise and competence in performing small animal studies, including tail vein injection in mice, anesthesia (both injectable and inhalation), blood sampling, maintaining animal body temperature, animal monitoring and PET imaging, calibration and data reconstruction. The system is very modular and back-up components are available for every essential part of the scanner.


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Last Modified: April 20, 2011
Please forward all questions about this site to: Kathy Folkers