Imaging transgene expression with radionuclide imaging technologies

S. S. Gambhir, H. R. Herschman, S. R. Cherry, J. R. Barrio, N. Satyamurthy, T. Toyokuni, M. E. Phelps, S. M. Larson, J. Balatoni, R. Finn, M. Sadelain, J. Tjuvajev, R. Blasberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

323 Scopus citations


A variety of imaging technologies are being investigated as tools for studying gene expression in living subjects. Noninvasive, repetitive and quantitative imaging of gene expression will help both to facilitate human gene therapy trials and to allow for the study of animal models of molecular and cellular therapy. Radionuclide approaches using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET) are the most mature of the current imaging technologies and offer many advantages for imaging gene expression compared to optical and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based approaches. These advantages include relatively high sensitivity, full quantitative capability (for PET), and the ability to extend small animal assays directly into clinical human applications. We describe a PET scanner (microPET) designed specifically for studies of small animals. We review 'marker/reporter gene' imaging approaches using the herpes simplex type 1 virus thymidine kinase (HSV1-tk) and the dopamine type 2 receptor (D2R) genes. We describe and contrast several radiolabeled probes that can be used with the HSV1-tk reporter gene both for SPECT and for PET imaging. We also describe the advantages/disadvantages of each of the assays developed and discuss future animal and human applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-138
Number of pages21
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopamine 2 receptor
  • Gene expression
  • Herpes simplex virus
  • Imaging
  • Marker gene
  • MicroPET
  • PET
  • Reporter gene
  • Thymidine kinase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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