Current and future perspectives on functional molecular imaging in nephro-urology: Theranostics on the horizon

Yoshitaka Toyama, Rudolf A. Werner, Camilo A. Ruiz-Bedoya, Alvaro A. Ordonez, Kei Takase, Constantin Lapa, Sanjay K. Jain, Martin G. Pomper, Steven P. Rowe, Takahiro Higuchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent years, a paradigm shift from single-photon-emitting radionuclide radiotracers toward positron-emission tomography (PET) radiotracers has occurred in nuclear oncology. Although PET-based molecular imaging of the kidneys is still in its infancy, such a trend has emerged in the field of functional renal radionuclide imaging. Potentially allowing for precise and thorough evaluation of renal radiotracer urodynamics, PET radionuclide imaging has numerous advantages including precise anatomical co-registration with CT images and dynamic three-dimensional imaging capability. In addition, relative to scintigraphic approaches, PET can allow for significantly reduced scan time enabling high-throughput in a busy PET practice and further reduces radiation exposure, which may have a clinical impact in pediatric populations. In recent years, multiple renal PET radiotracers labeled with 11C, 68Ga, and 18F have been utilized in clinical studies. Beyond providing a precise non-invasive read-out of renal function, such radiotracers may also be used to assess renal inflammation. This manuscript will provide an overview of renal molecular PET imaging and will highlight the transformation of conventional scintigraphy of the kidneys toward novel, high-resolution PET imaging for assessing renal function. In addition, future applications will be introduced, e.g. by transferring the concept of molecular image-guided diagnostics and therapy (theranostics) to the field of nephrology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6105-6119
Number of pages15
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2021


  • Glomerular filtration rate
  • Kidney
  • Molecular imaging
  • Nephrology
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Renal
  • Renal function
  • Theranostics
  • Urology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)


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