Positron emission tomography compartmental models

R N Gunn, S R Gunn, V J Cunningham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

397 Citations (Scopus)


The current article presents theory for compartmental models used in positron emission tomography (PET). Both plasma input models and reference tissue input models are considered. General theory is derived and the systems are characterized in terms of their impulse response functions. The theory shows that the macro parameters of the system may be determined simply from the coefficients of the impulse response functions. These results are discussed in the context of radioligand binding studies. It is shown that binding potential is simply related to the integral of the impulse response functions for all plasma and reference tissue input models currently used in PET. This article also introduces a general compartmental description for the behavior of the tracer in blood, which then allows for the blood volume-induced bias in reference tissue input models to be assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-52
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001


  • Blood
  • Blood Volume
  • Brain
  • Humans
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Biological
  • Plasma
  • Radioisotopes
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed


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