Over the last decade, the effects of stem cell therapy on cardiac repair after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) have been investigated with different imaging techniques. We evaluated a new imaging approach using 13N-ammonia and 18F-FDG PET for a combined analysis of cardiac perfusion, metabolism, and function in patients treated with intracoronary injection of endothelial progenitors or with conventional therapy for AMI. Methods: A total of 15 patients were randomly assigned to 3 groups based on different treatments (group A: bone marrow-derived stem cells; group B: peripheral blood-derived stem cells; group C: standard therapy alone). The number of scarred and viable segments, along with the infarct size and the extent of the viable area, were determined on a 9-segment 13N- ammonia/18F-FDG PET polar map. Myocardial blood flow (MBF) was calculated for each segment on the ammonia polar map, whereas a global evaluation of left ventricular function was obtained by estimating left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) and end-diastolic volume, both derived from electrocardiography-gated 18F-FDG images. Both intragroup and intergroup comparative analyses of the mean values of each parameter were performed at baseline and 3, 6, and 12 mo after AMI. During follow-up, major cardiac events were also registered. Results: A significant decrease (P <0.05) in the number of scarred segments and infarct size was observed in group A, along with an increase in MBF (P <0.05) and a mild improvement in cardiac function. Lack of infarct size shrinkage in group B was associated with a marked impairment of MBF (P = 0.01) and cardiac dysfunction. Ambiguous changes in infarct size, MBF, and LVEF were found in group C. No differences in number of viable segments or in extent of viable area were found among the groups. At clinical follow-up, no major cardiac events occurred in group A patients, whereas 2 patients of group B experienced in-stent occlusion and one patient of group C received a transplant for heart failure. Conclusion: Our data suggest that a single nuclear imaging technique accurately analyzes changes in myocardial perfusion and metabolism occurring after stem cell transplantation.
- Acute myocardial infarction
- Stem cells
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging