Inflamed human carotid plaques evaluated by PET/CT exhibit increased temperature: Insights from an in vivo study

Inflamed human carotid plaques evaluated by PET/CT exhibit increased temperature: Insights from an in vivo study.
K. Toutouzas, I. Koutagiar, G. Benetos, C. Aggeli, A. Georgakopoulos, E. Athanasiadis, N. Pianou, S. Trachanellis, N. Patelis, G. Agrogiannis, P. Kafouris, K. Filis, N. Bessias, C. Klonaris, G. Spyrou, E. Tsiamis, E. Siores, E. Patsouris, D. Cokkinos, D. Tousoulis, C. Anagnostopoulos.
Eur Heart J Cardiovasc Imaging. 2017 Nov 1;18(11):1236-1244.

ABSTRACT
AIMS:

To explore the relationship between temperature measurements derived by microwave radiometry (MWR) and carotid flurodeoxyglucose (FDG) uptake and assess their association with histological and immunohistochemistry findings in patients with high-grade carotid stenosis.
METHODS AND RESULTS:
In 21 patients undergoing carotid endarterectomy, carotid inflammation was evaluated by both FDG positron emission/computed tomography (FDG-PET/CT) imaging and MWR measurements. Carotid inflammation was assessed by PET/CT as target-to-background ratio (TBR) by obtaining measurements in consecutive axial slices 2 cm below to 2 cm above the carotid bifurcation. Temperature difference (ΔT) by MWR was assigned as the maximum-minimum temperature measurements over the corresponding carotid segments. The extent of lipid core, calcification as well as CD68 and CD31 levels were also assessed. There was a significant correlation between ΔT values and FDG uptake (R = 0.40, P = 0.01), but no correlation between the degree of angiographic stenosis and ΔT values (R = -0.02, P = 0.91) or PET/CT measurements (R = -0.28, P = 0.86). Patients with plaques containing high lipid core extension or low calcification exhibited higher ΔT (P = 0.001 and P < 0.001, respectively) and FDG uptake values (P = 0.02 and P = 0.02, respectively). Patients with plaques containing increased CD68 expression exhibited higher ΔT and FDG uptake measurements.
CONCLUSION:
Carotid plaque inflammation was evaluated by temperature measurements, which were correlated with FDG-PET/CT indices, confirmed by histopathology and immunohistochemistry findings. Structural changes did not predict inflammatory process. The implications of these findings in risk stratification and management of patients with carotid atherosclerosis and the precise algorithm for potential clinical utilization of MWR and PET/CT remain to be determined.