2016 Volume 56 Issue 7 Pages 396-408
Non-invasive positron emission tomography (PET) enables the measurement of metabolic and molecular processes with high sensitivity. PET plays a significant role in the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of brain tumors and predominantly detects brain tumors by detecting their metabolic alterations, including energy metabolism, amino acids, nucleic acids, and hypoxia. Glucose metabolic tracers are related to tumor cell energy and exhibit good sensitivity but poor specificity for malignant tumors. Amino acid metabolic tracers provide a better delineation of tumors and cellular proliferation. Nucleic acid metabolic tracers have a high sensitivity for malignant tumors and cellular proliferation. Hypoxic metabolism tracers are useful for detecting resistance to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Therefore, PET imaging techniques are useful for detecting biopsy-targeting points, deciding on tumor resection, radiotherapy planning, monitoring therapy, and distinguishing brain tumor recurrence or progression from post-radiotherapy effects. However, it is not possible to use only one PET tracer to make all clinical decisions because each tracer has both advantages and disadvantages. This study focuses on the different kinds of PET tracers and summarizes their recent applications in patients with gliomas. Combinational uses of PET tracers are expected to contribute to differential diagnosis, prognosis, treatment targeting, and monitoring therapy.