Introduction: Autoradiography is an established technique for high-resolution imaging of radiolabelled molecules in biological tissue slices. Unfortunately, creating a 3D image from a set of these 2D images is extremely time-consuming and error-prone. MicroSPECT systems provide such 3D images but have a low resolution. Here we present EXIRAD-3D, a fast automated method as an alternative for 3D autoradiography from coupes based on ultra-high resolution microSPECT technology. Methods: EXIRAD-3D uses a very small bore focusing multi-pinhole collimator mounted in a SPECT system with stationary detectors (U-SPECT/CT, MILabs B.V. The Netherlands) using a sample holder with integrated tissue cooling to avoid activity leaking or tissue deformation during the scan. The system performance was experimentally evaluated using various phantoms and tissue samples of animals in vivo injected with technetium-99m and iodine-123. Results: The reconstructed spatial resolution obtained with a Derenzo hot rod phantom was 120 μm (or 1.7 nl). The voxel values of a syringe phantom image appear to be uniform and scale linearly with activity. Uptake in tiny details of the mouse knee joint, thyroid, and kidney could be clearly visualized. Conclusion: EXIRAD-3D opens up the possibility for fast and quantitative 3D imaging of radiolabelled molecules at a resolution far better than in vivo microSPECT and saves tremendous amounts of work compared to obtaining 3D data from a set of 2D autoradiographs. Advances in knowledge and implications for patient care: EXIRAD-3D offers superior image resolution over microSPECT, and it can be a very efficient alternative for autoradiography in pharmaceutical and biological studies.

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Keywords Autoradiography, Ex vivo, Molecular imaging, Pinhole, SPECT
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Journal Nuclear Medicine and Biology
Nguyen, M.P. (Minh Phuong), Ramakers, R.M. (Ruud M.), Kamphuis, C. (Chris), Koustoulidou, S. (Sofia), Goorden, M.C. (Marlies C.), & Beekman, F.J. (2020). EXIRAD-3D: Fast automated three-dimensional autoradiography. Nuclear Medicine and Biology. doi:10.1016/j.nucmedbio.2020.06.001