Research ArticleImaging

Imaging Enterobacteriaceae infection in vivo with 18F-fluorodeoxysorbitol positron emission tomography

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Science Translational Medicine  22 Oct 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 259, pp. 259ra146
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3009815

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Probing Bacterial infections with PET Imaging

Often acquired in hospitals and notoriously resistant to many drugs, Enterobacteriaceae represent an infectious threat to human health. Pathogenic Enterobacteriaceae, including Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, readily metabolize the sugar sorbitol; thus, Weinstein and colleagues reasoned that a radiolabeled version of sorbitol could be used to image bacterial infections in vivo. The authors created 18F-fluorodeoxysorbitol (FDS) and administered it to mice for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging. The probe was able to distinguish E. coli infection from general inflammation as well as from infection with the Gram-positive bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. FDS was used to monitor antimicrobial efficacy in animals infected with drug-susceptible or drug-resistant E. coli. Such imaging would allow noninvasive monitoring of disease progression or regression, without repeated time-consuming cultures. Whole-body imaging of bacteria using PET and 18F-labeled probes—two common clinical tools—could provide clinicians with a sensitive and specific means of rapidly assessing infection and making treatment decisions.