BACKGROUND: Brain PET imaging with different tracers is mainly clinically used in the field of neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors. In recent years, the potential usefulness of PET has also gained attention in the field of MS. In fact, MS is a complex disease and several processes can be selected as a target for PET imaging. The use of PET with several different tracers has been mainly evaluated in the research setting to investigate disease pathophysiology (i.e. phenotypes, monitoring of progression) or to explore its use a surrogate end-point in clinical trials.
RESULTS: We have reviewed PET imaging studies in MS in humans and animal models. Tracers have been grouped according to their pathophysiological targets (ie. tracers for myelin kinetic, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration). The emerging clinical indication for brain PET imaging in the differential diagnosis of suspected tumefactive demyelinated plaques as well as the clinical potential provided by PET images in view of the recent introduction of PET/MR technology are also addressed.
CONCLUSION: While several preclinical and fewer clinical studies have shown results, full-scale clinical development programs are needed to translate molecular imaging technologies into a clinical reality that could ideally fit into current precision medicine perspectives.