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P. aeruginosa Infection PET Imaging Diagnosis with a Ga-68 Radiolabelled Siderophore: Pyoverdine

  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa is bacterium causing antibiotic resistant infections in Hospitals which are particularly dangerous in immunocompromised patients. It is estimated that just in the USA, each year, 51000 of these health-care related infections lead to 400 deaths.


  • Fast and reliable diagnostic methods do not exist today and it has been suggested that labelled siderophores could be used for that intend. Siderophores are low-molecular mass iron chelators produced by nearly all microorganisms for iron acquisition and storage. One of the siderophores produced by P. aeruginosa is pyoverdine (PVD). PVD was labelled with Ga-68 given that Ga-68 has similar physicochemical properties to iron and binds with high affinity to various siderophores.


  • In a recent Nature publication, Petrik et al. show how 68Ga-PVD-PAO1 can be used for the detection of P. aeruginosa infection with high specificity and sensitivity. In healthy animals, it showed excellent in vivo behaviour with rapid renal excretion and no accumulation in any organ. In infected animals, 68Ga-PVD-PAO1 showed focal uptake in infected tissue, high sensitivity and much better pharmacokinetics than clinically used radiopharmaceuticals. It was also found that the concept of radiolabelled siderophores for specific infection imaging is transferable to different pathogens.

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PET/CT imaging of 68Ga-PVD-PAO1 in noninfected (A) and intratracheally infected (B) Lewis rats 45 min after injection

Infection A
Infection B

In vitro uptake of 68Ga-PVD in various microbial cultures

Pa1 = Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 15692, Pa2 = Pseudomonas aeruginosa 1019, Bm = Burkholderia multivorans 1926, Bc = Burkholderia cenocepacia 2029, … , Sm = Stenotrophomonas maltophilia 303, Ye = Yersinia enterocolitica 2871, Lm = Listeria monocytogenes, Ab = Acinetobacter baumannii 2377)

In vitro