Antoni G, Lubberink M, Sörensen J, Lindström E, Elgland M, Eriksson O, Hultström M, Frithiof R, Wanhainen A, Sigfridsson J, Skorup P, Lipcsey M
J Nucl Med - (-) - [2022-06-09; online 2022-06-09]
COVID-19 can cause life-threatening lung-inflammation that is suggested to be mediated by neutrophils, whose effector mechanisms in COVID-19 is inexplicit. The aim of the present work is to evaluate a novel PET tracer for neutrophil elastase in COVID-19 patients and healthy controls. METHODS: In this open-label, First-In-Man study, four patients with hypoxia due to COVID-19 and two healthy controls were investigated with positron emission tomography (PET) using the new selective and specific neutrophil elastase PET-tracer [11C]GW457427 and [15O]water for the visualization and quantification of NE and perfusion in the lungs, respectively. RESULTS: [11C]GW457427 accumulated selectively in lung areas with ground-glass opacities on computed tomography characteristic of COVID-19 suggesting high levels on NE in these areas. In the same areas perfusion was severely reduced in comparison to healthy lung tissue as measured with [15O]water. CONCLUSION: The data suggests that NE may be responsible for the severe lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients and that inhibition of NE could potentially reduce the acute inflammatory process and improve the condition.