Novel nuclear medicine imaging applications in immuno-oncology

Stefano Frega, Alessandro Dal Maso, Giulia Pasello, Lea Cuppari, Laura Bonanno, Pierfranco Conte, Laura Evangelista

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The global immuno-oncology pipeline has grown progressively in recent years, leading cancer immunotherapy to become one of the main issues of the healthcare industry. Despite their success in the treatment of several malignancies, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) perform poorly in others. Again, ICIs action depends on such a multitude of clinico-pathological features, that the attempt to predict responders/long-responders with ad-hoc built immunograms revealed to be quite complex. In this landscape, the role of nuclear medicine might be crucial, with first interesting evidences coming from small case series and pre-clinical studies. Positron-emission tomography (PET) techniques provide functional information having a predictive and/or prognostic value in patients treated with ICIs or adoptive T-cell therapy. Recently, a characterization of the tumor immune microenvironment (TiME) pattern itself has been shown to be feasible through the use of different radioactive tracers or image algorithms, thus adding knowledge about tumor heterogeneity. Finally, nuclear medicine exams permit an early detection of immune-related adverse events (irAEs), with on-going clinical trials investigating their correlation with patients’ outcome. This review depicts the recent advances in molecular imaging both in terms of non-invasive diagnosis of TiME properties and benefit prediction from immunotherapeutic agents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1303
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 21 2020


  • Immune checkpoint inhibitors
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Positron-emission tomography
  • Single-photon emission computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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