Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Assessing the retention of cell therapies following implantation is vital and often achieved by labelling cells with 2'-[18F]-fluoro-2'-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG). However, this approach is limited by local retention of cell-effluxed radiotracer. Here, in a preclinical model of critical limb ischemia, we assessed a novel method of cell tracking using 3'-deoxy-3'-L-[18F]-fluorothymidine (18F-FLT); a clinically available radiotracer which we hypothesise will result in minimal local radiotracer reuptake and allow a more accurate estimation of cell retention. Human endothelial cells (HUVECs) were incubated with 18F-FDG or 18F-FLT and cell characteristics were evaluated. Dynamic positron emission tomography (PET) images were acquired post-injection of free 18F-FDG/18F-FLT or 18F-FDG/18F-FLT-labelled HUVECs, following the surgical induction of mouse hind-limb ischemia. In vitro, radiotracer incorporation and efflux was similar with no effect on cell viability, function or proliferation under optimised conditions (5 MBq/mL, 60 min). Injection of free radiotracer demonstrated a faster clearance of 18F-FLT from the injection site vs. 18F-FDG (p ≤ 0.001), indicating local cellular uptake. Using 18F-FLT-labelling, estimation of HUVEC retention within the engraftment site 4 hr post-administration was 24.5 ± 3.2%. PET cell tracking using 18F-FLT labelling is an improved approach vs. 18F-FDG as it is not susceptible to local host cell reuptake, resulting in a more accurate estimation of cell retention.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci rep

Publication Date





Cell Tracking, Dideoxynucleosides, Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells, Humans, Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography, Radioactive Tracers