DOI: 10.1007/s00259-017-3917-8Pages: 806-815

Pulmonary 18F-FDG uptake helps refine current risk stratification in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

1. Lister Hospital, Respiratory Medicine

2. Papworth Hospital, Radiology Department

3. CITR, UCL and Interstitial Lung Disease Centre, UCLH

4. University College London/Hospital, Institute of Nuclear Medicine

5. Royal Brompton Hospital, Interstitial Lung Disease Unit

6. GlaxoSmithKline R&D, Fibrosis and Lung Injury DPU

7. Statistical Consultancy

Correspondence to:
Ashley M. Groves
Tel: +44 207 380 9424




There is a lack of prognostic biomarkers in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) patients. The objective of this study is to investigate the potential of 18F-FDG-PET/ CT to predict mortality in IPF.


A total of 113 IPF patients (93 males, 20 females, mean age ± SD: 70 ± 9 years) were prospectively recruited for 18F-FDG-PET/CT. The overall maximum pulmonary uptake of 18F-FDG (SUVmax), the minimum pulmonary uptake or background lung activity (SUVmin), and target-to-background (SUVmax/ SUVmin) ratio (TBR) were quantified using routine region-of-interest analysis. Kaplan–Meier analysis was used to identify associations of PET measurements with mortality. We also compared PET associations with IPF mortality with the established GAP (gender age and physiology) scoring system. Cox analysis assessed the independence of the significant PET measurement(s) from GAP score. We investigated synergisms between pulmonary 18F-FDG-PET measurements and GAP score for risk stratification in IPF patients.


During a mean follow-up of 29 months, there were 54 deaths. The mean TBR ± SD was 5.6 ± 2.7. Mortality was associated with high pulmonary TBR (p = 0.009), low forced vital capacity (FVC; p = 0.001), low transfer factor (TLCO; p < 0.001), high GAP index (p = 0.003), and high GAP stage (p = 0.003). Stepwise forward-Wald–Cox analysis revealed that the pulmonary TBR was independent of GAP classification (p = 0.010). The median survival in IPF patients with a TBR < 4.9 was 71 months, whilst in those with TBR > 4.9 was 24 months. Combining PET data with GAP data (“PET modified GAP score”) refined the ability to predict mortality.


A high pulmonary TBR is independently associated with increased risk of mortality in IPF patients.

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  • Accepted: Dec 14, 2017
  • Online: Jan 16, 2018

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