Infection and Inflammation

Persona de contacto: Lorena Cussó

Early detection of unknown inflammation and nosocomial infection processes is crucial nowadays for patient’s survival. In this respect, clinical practice is taken profit of molecular imaging technologies to diagnose these pathologies in early stages. But in many cases correlation between imaging findings and patient evolution is still undetermined. Animal models are indispensable for the study of key issues in disease pathophysiology, for testing promising new treatments and also for find imaging markers of disease progression.

Nosocomial infection is a hospital-acquired infection whose development is favored by a hospital environment. Most common nosocomial infections are catheter-related or antibiotic-related infections. Candida spp., Staphylococci and Staphylococcus aureus are the principal microorganism involved on catheter-related infections whose can induce endocarditis or pneumonia. On the other hand, antibiotics destroy normal flora of our organism promoting opportunistic microorganism appearance such as Clostridium difficile, provoking colitis. Crohn disease also produces colon inflammation but it is caused by a combination of environmental, immune and bacterial factors in genetically susceptible individuals. Signs and symptoms are varied but Crohn patient are at greater risk of bowel cancer.

In this context our group is taking profit of biomedical small animal dedicated techniques to look for imaging markers in order to foresee the disease progression on different rodent models. Nowadays we are using PET-CT and MRI on mice model of bowel inflammation diseases both nosocomial and Crohn’s disease (Images on the left). Future projects are about infective endocarditis also by PET-CT and finally we are planning to explore new antifungal drugs to eliminate catheter infections by optical imaging. 

Besides the projects previously mentioned, our group is also developing new imaging agents, particularly at improving specific targeting interactions, efficiently overcoming biological barriers, and providing agents that are useful for more than one imaging modality.  In this particular, we are designing new radiotracers for target specifically Mycobacterium tuberculosis within the PreDiCT-TB European project.

Although the importance of 18F-FDG in the clinical routine remains unquestionable, there are well-known detectability problems in several applications due to its non-specific tissue uptake. In the case of reducing non-specific heart uptake, several preparatory protocols (such as diets and drugs) had previously been tested, but we performed the first comparative evaluation of these strategies. We developed a simple and effective protocol that used the ability of the myocardium to switch its metabolism from glucose to FFAs in order to reduce myocardial 18F-FDG uptake, thus improving lesion visualization. 

Selected Articles

International Journals 

  • Cussó L, Vaquero JJ, Bacharach S and Desco M. Comparison of treatments to reduce myocardial 18F-FDG uptake in preclinical models: calcium channel blockers versus high-fat diets. Plos One 9 (9): e107999, 201

Funded Grants

Bouza, E. (2014-2016). Evolución de la Prevalencia, Diagnóstico, Caracterización Fenotípica y Genotípica de la Infección por C. difficile (ICD) en España. Factores de Riesgo de Recurrencia y Valor del PET-TAC en la ICD. PI13/00687. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.

Muñoz, P. (2014-2016). Proyecto PROMULGA II: Validación de la eficacia de un "bundle" de medidas en la incidencia, diagnóstico rápido, tratamiento y mortalidad de la infección fúngica nosocomial. PI13/01148. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad.

Menchen, L. (2014-2016). Disfunción de barrera, fibrosis y carcinogénesis asociadas a inflamación crónica en un modelo murino de enterocolitis: análisis mediante imagen y evaluación de un nuevo marcador molecular. PI13/02555. Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad

Vaquero, JJ. (2012-2017). Model-based preclinical development of anti-tuberculosis drug combinations (PreDiCT-TB). 115337. FP7-IMI - Seventh Framework Programme (EC-EFPIA). European Union

Funding Entities

Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad - Gobierno de España                                         Astellas                                                 Model-based preclinical development of anti-tuberculosis drug combinations



Related Research Lines

Preclinic Research

Imagen Óptica Jorge Ripoll

Technological Development 

PET technologies Juan José Vaquero

Imagen por Rayos X Mónica Abella