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Articles by Hongguang Liu in JoVE

 JoVE Clinical and Translational Medicine

Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging (CLI) for Cancer Therapy Monitoring

1Department of Radiology and Bio-X Program Canary Cancer at Stanford for Cancer Early Detection, Stanford University


JoVE 4341

Use of Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging (CLI) for monitoring preclinical cancer treatment is described here. This method takes advantage of Cerenkov Radiation (CR) and optical imaging (OI) to visualize radiolabeled probes and thus provides an alternative to PET in preclinical therapeutic monitoring and drug screening.

Other articles by Hongguang Liu on PubMed

GluR2(B) Knockdown Accelerates CA3 Injury After Kainate Seizures

Ca2+ currents are thought to enhance glutamate excitotoxicity. To investigate whether reduced expression of the Ca2+ limiting GluR2(B) subunit enhances seizure-induced vulnerability to either CA1 or CA3 neurons, we delivered GluR2(B) oligodeoxynucleotides (AS-ODNs) to the dorsal hippocampus of adult rats before inducing kainate (KA) seizures. After knockdown, no changes in behavior, electrographic activity, or histology were observed. In contrast, GluR2(B) knockdown and KA-induced status epilepticus produced accelerated histological injury to the ipsilateral CA3a-b and hilar subregions. At 8 to 12 h, the CA3a was preferentially labeled by both silver and TUNEL methods. TUNEL staining revealed 2 types of nuclei. They were round with uniform label, features of necrosis, or had DNA clumping or speckled chromatin deposits within surrounding cytosol, features of apoptosis. At 16 to 24 h, many CA3a-c neurons were shrunken, eosinophilic, argyrophilic, or completely absent. Immunohistochemistry revealed marked decreases in GluR2(B) subunits throughout the hippocampus, NR1 immunoreactivity was also reduced but to a lesser extent. In contrast, GluR1 and NR2A/B immunohistochemistry was relatively uniform except in regions of cell loss or within close proximity to the CA1 infusion site. At 144 h, the CA3 was still preferentially injured although bilateral CA1 injury was also observed in some AS-ODN-, S-ODN-, and KA-only-treated animals. Glutamate receptor antibodies revealed generalized decreases in the CA3 with all probes tested at this delayed time. In contrast, GluR2(B) expression was increased within CA1 irregularly shaped, injured neurons. Therefore, hippocampal deprivation of GluR2(B) subunits is insufficient to induce cell death in mature animals but may accelerate the already known CA3/hilar lesion, possibly by triggering apoptosis within CA3 neurons. CA1 and DG survive the first week despite their loss of GluR2(B) subunits, suggesting that other intrinsic properties such as increased Na+ conductance and reduced ability of the GluR2(B) subunit to interact with certain cytoplasmic proteins may be responsible for the augmented cell death rather than changes in AMPA receptor-mediated Ca2+ permeability. Alternatively, changes in allosteric interactions that affect other receptor classes of high density at the mossy fiber synapse (e.g. KA receptors) may augment KA neurotoxicity. Latent GluR2(B) increases in CA1 injured neurons support a role for AMPA receptor subunit alterations in seizure-induced tolerance.

Protein-protein Interactions and Membrane Localization of the Human Organic Solute Transporter

Two proteins that mediate bile acid export from the ileal enterocyte, organic solute transporter (OST)-alpha and -beta, have recently been identified. It is unclear whether these two proteins associate directly and how they interact to mediate transport function and membrane localization. In this study, the protein-protein interactions, transport functions, and membrane localization of human (h)OST-alpha and -beta proteins were examined. The results demonstrated that coexpression of hOST-alpha and -beta in transfected cells resulted in a three- to fivefold increase of the initial rate of taurocholate influx or efflux compared with cells expressing each protein individually and nontransfected cells. Confocal microscopy demonstrated plasma membrane colocalization of hOST-alpha and -beta proteins in cells cotransfected with hOST-alpha and -beta cDNAs. Protein-protein interactions between hOST-alpha and -beta were demonstrated by mammalian two-hybrid and coimmunoprecipitation analyses. Truncation of the amino-terminal 50 amino acid extracellular residues of hOST-alpha abolished its interaction with hOST-beta and led to an intracellular accumulation of the two proteins and to only background levels of taurocholate transport. In contrast, carboxyl-terminal 28 amino acid truncated hOST-alpha still interacted with hOST-beta, and majority of this cytoplasmic tail-truncated protein was expressed on the basolateral membrane when it was stably cotransfected with hOST-beta protein in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells. In summary, hOST-alpha and -beta proteins are physically associated. The intracellular carboxyl-terminal domain of hOST-alpha is not essential for this interaction with hOST-beta. The extracellular amino-terminal fragment of hOST-alpha may contain important information for the assembly of the heterodimer and trafficking to the plasma membrane.

Interaction Between the Glutamate Transporter GLT1b and the Synaptic PDZ Domain Protein PICK1

Synaptic plasticity is implemented by the interaction of glutamate receptors with PDZ domain proteins. Glutamate transporters provide the only known mechanism of clearance of glutamate from excitatory synapses, and GLT1 is the major glutamate transporter. We show here that GLT1 interacts with the PDZ domain protein PICK1, which plays a critical role in regulating the expression of glutamate receptors at excitatory synapses. A yeast two-hybrid screen of a neuronal library using the carboxyl tail of GLT1b yielded clones expressing PICK1. The GLT1b C-terminal peptide bound to PICK1 with high affinity (K(i) = 6.5 +/- 0.4 microM) in an in vitro fluorescence polarization assay. We also tested peptides based on other variants of GLT1 and other glutamate transporters. GLT1b co-immunoprecipitated with PICK1 from rat brain lysates and COS7 cell lysates derived from cells transfected with plasmids expressing PICK1 and GLT1b. In addition, expression of GLT1b in COS7 cells changed the distribution of PICK1, bringing it to the surface. GLT1b and PICK1 co-localized with each other and with synaptic markers in hippocampal neurons in culture. Phorbol ester, an activator of protein kinase C (PKC), a known PICK1 interactor, had no effect on glutamate transport in rat forebrain neurons in culture. However, we found that exposure of neurons to a myristolated decoy peptide with sequence identical to the C-terminal sequence of GLT1b designed to block the PICK1-GLT1b interaction rendered glutamate transport into neurons responsive to phorbol ester. These results suggest that the PICK1-GLT1b interaction regulates the modulation of GLT1 function by PKC.

Biphenylquinolizidine Alkaloids from Lagerstroemia Indica

Two new biphenylquinolizidine alkaloids, 5-epi-dihydrolyfoline (1) and its stereoisomer, dihydrolyfoline (2), along with lagerine (3) were isolated from the aerial parts of Lagerstroemia indica. The structures of compounds 1-3 were elucidated by extensive spectroscopic techniques.

Melanin-targeted Preclinical PET Imaging of Melanoma Metastasis

Dialkylamino-alkyl-benzamides possess an affinity for melanin, suggesting that labeling of such benzamides with (18)F could potentially produce melanin-targeted PET probes able to identify melanotic melanoma metastases in vivo with high sensitivity and specificity.

PET of Malignant Melanoma Using 18F-labeled Metallopeptides

Melanocortin type 1 receptor (MC1R), also known as alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) receptor, is an attractive molecular target for melanoma imaging and therapy. An (18)F-labeled linear alpha-MSH peptide ((18)F-FB-Ac-Nle-Asp-His-d-Phe-Arg-Trp-Gly-Lys-NH(2) [NAPamide]) shows promising melanoma imaging properties but with only moderate tumor uptake and retention. A transition metal rhenium-cyclized alpha-MSH peptide, ReO[Cys(3,4,10),d-Phe(7),Arg(11)]alpha-MSH(3-13) (ReCCMSH(Arg(11))), has shown high in vitro binding affinity to MC1R and excellent in vivo melanoma-targeting profiles when labeled with radiometals. Therefore, we hypothesized that ReCCMSH(Arg(11)) could be a good platform for the further development of an (18)F-labeled probe for PET of MC1R-positive malignant melanoma.

An Engineered Knottin Peptide Labeled with 18F for PET Imaging of Integrin Expression

Knottins are small constrained polypeptides that share a common disulfide-bonded framework and a triple-stranded beta-sheet fold. Previously, directed evolution of the Ecballium elaterium trypsin inhibitor (EETI-II) knottin led to the identification of a mutant that bound to tumor-specific alpha(v)beta(3) and alpha(v)beta(5) integrin receptors with low nanomolar affinity. The objective of this study was to prepare and evaluate a radiofluorinated version of this knottin (termed 2.5D) for microPET imaging of integrin positive tumors in living subjects. Knottin peptide 2.5D was prepared by solid-phase synthesis and folded in vitro, and its free N-terminal amine was reacted with N-succinimidyl-4-18/19F-fluorobenzoate (18/19F-SFB) to produce the fluorinated peptide 18/19F-FB-2.5D. The binding affinities of unlabeled knottin peptide 2.5D and 19F-FB-2.5D to U87MG glioblastoma cells were measured by competition binding assay using 125I-labeled echistatin. It was found that unlabeled 2.5D and 19F-FB-2.5D competed with 125I-echistatin for binding to cell surface integrins with IC(50) values of 20.3 +/- 7.3 and 13.2 +/- 5.4 nM, respectively. Radiosynthesis of 18F-FB-2.5D resulted in a product with high specific activity (ca. 100 GBq/micromol). Next, biodistribution and positron emission tomography (PET) imaging studies were performed to evaluate the in vivo behavior of 18F-FB-2.5D. Approximately 3.7 MBq 18F-FB-2.5D was injected into U87MG tumor-bearing mice via the tail vein. Biodistribution studies demonstrated that 18F-FB-2.5D had moderate tumor uptake at 0.5 h post injection, and coinjection of a large excess of the unlabeled peptidomimetic c(RGDyK) as a blocking agent significantly reduced tumor uptake (1.90 +/- 1.15 vs 0.57 +/- 0.14%ID/g, 70% inhibition, P < 0.05). In vivo microPET imaging showed that 18F-FB-2.5D rapidly accumulated in the tumor and quickly cleared from the blood through the kidneys, allowing excellent tumor-to-normal tissue contrast to be obtained. Collectively, 18F-FB-2.5D allows integrin-specific PET imaging of U87MG tumors with good contrast and further demonstrates that knottins are excellent peptide scaffolds for development of PET probes with potential for clinical translation.

Fluorescence Turn-on Sensors for HSO4-

A coumarin-based derivative (1), a highly selective and sensitive turn-on fluorogenic probe for the detection of HSO4- ions in aqueous solution, has been designed and synthesized. Various spectroscopic and DFT calculations revealed that H-bonding between the phenolic -OH and imine nitrogen of 1 played a crucial role in its high selectivity for HSO4-.

64Cu-labeled Affibody Molecules for Imaging of HER2 Expressing Tumors

INTRODUCTION: The development of molecular probes based on novel engineered protein constructs is under active investigation due to the great potential of this generalizable strategy for imaging a variety of tumor targets. DISCUSSION: In this report, human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2)-binding Affibody molecules were radiolabeled with (64)Cu and their imaging ability was further evaluated in tumor mice models to understand the promise and limitations of such probes. The anti-HER2 Affibody molecules in monomeric (Z(HER2:477)) and dimeric [(Z(HER2:477))(2)] forms were site specifically modified with the maleimide-functionalized chelator, 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7-tris(acetic acid)-10-acetate mono (N-ethylmaleimide amide) (Mal-DOTA). The resulting DOTA-Affibody conjugates were radiolabeled with (64)Cu and evaluated in nude mice bearing subcutaneous SKOV3 tumors. Biodistribution experiments showed that tumor uptake values of (64)Cu-DOTA-Z(HER2:477) and (64)Cu-DOTA-(Z(HER2:477))(2) were 6.12 +/- 1.44% and 1.46 +/- 0.50% ID/g, respectively, in nude mice (n = 3 each) at 4 h postinjection. Moreover, (64)Cu-labeled monomer exhibited significantly higher tumor/blood ratio than that of radiolabeled dimeric counterpart at all time points examined in this study. MicroPET imaging of (64)Cu-DOTA-Z(HER2:477) in SKOV3 tumor mice clearly showed good and specific tumor localization. This study demonstrates that (64)Cu-labeled Z(HER2:477) is a promising targeted molecular probe for imaging HER2 receptor expression in living mice. Further work is needed to improve the excretion properties, hence dosimetry and imaging efficacy, of the radiometal-based probe.

Evaluation of a (64)Cu-labeled Cystine-knot Peptide Based on Agouti-related Protein for PET of Tumors Expressing Alphavbeta3 Integrin

Recently, a truncated form of the agouti-related protein (AgRP), a 4-kDa cystine-knot peptide of human origin, was used as a scaffold to engineer mutants that bound to alpha(v)beta(3) integrin with high affinity and specificity. In this study, we evaluated the potential of engineered integrin-binding AgRP peptides for use as cancer imaging agents in living subjects.

Molecular Optical Imaging with Radioactive Probes

Optical imaging (OI) techniques such as bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging have been widely used to track diseases in a non-invasive manner within living subjects. These techniques generally require bioluminescent and fluorescent probes. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of using radioactive probes for in vivo molecular OI.

Small-animal PET Imaging of Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Positive Tumor with a 64Cu Labeled Affibody Protein

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has become an attractive target for cancer molecular imaging and therapy. Affibody proteins against EGFR have been reported, and thus, we were interested in evaluating their potential for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of EGFR positive cancer. An Affibody analogue (Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907)) binding to EGFR was made through conventional solid phase peptide synthesis. The purified protein was site-specifically coupled with the 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7-tris-aceticacid-10-maleimidethylacetamide (maleimido-mono-amide-DOTA) to produce the bioconjugate, DOTA-Z(EGFR:1907). (64)Cu labeled probe (64)Cu-DOTA-Z(EGFR:1907) displayed a moderate specific activity (5-8 MBq/nmol, 22-35 microCi/microg). Cell uptake assays by pre-incubating without or with 300 times excess unlabeled Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907) showed high EGFR-specific uptake (20% applied activity at 0.5 h) in A431 epidermoid carcinoma cancer cells. The affinity (K(D)) of (64)Cu-DOTA-Z(EGFR:1907) as tested by cell saturation analysis was 20 nM. The serum stability test showed excellent stability of the probe with >95% intact after 4 h of incubation in mouse serum. In vivo small-animal PET imaging showed fast tumor targeting, high tumor accumulation (approximately 10% ID/g at 1 h p.i.), and good tumor-to-normal tissue contrast of (64)Cu-DOTA-Z(EGFR:1907) spiked with a wide dose range of Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907). Bio-distribution studies further demonstrated that the probe had high tumor, blood, liver, and kidney uptakes, while blood radioactivity concentration dropped dramatically at increased spiking doses. Co-injection of the probe with 500 microg of Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907) for blocking significantly reduced the tumor uptake. Thus, (64)Cu-DOTA-Z(EGFR:1907) showed potential as a high tumor contrast EGFR PET imaging reagent. The probe spiked with 50 microg of Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907) improved tumor imaging contrast which may have important clinical applications.

Dipyrenylcalix[4]arene--a Fluorescence-based Chemosensor for Trinitroaromatic Explosives

A new chemosensor-based approach to the detection of nitroaromatics is described. It involves the analyte-induced quenching of excimer emission of a dipyrenyl calix[4]arene (L). The chemical and photophysical properties of the complexes formed between L and mono-, di-, and trinitrobenzene, and di- and trinitrotoluene were studied in acetonitrile and chloroform by using (1)H NMR, UV/Vis, and fluorescence spectroscopy. Fluorescence spectroscopy revealed that the trinitroaromatics engendered the largest response among the various substrates tested, with the sensitivity for these analytes being correspondingly high. Quantitative analysis of the fluorescence titration profile generated from the titration of L with TNT provided evidence that this particular functionalized calix[4]arene receptor allows for the detection of TNT down to the low ppb level in CH(3)CN. A single-crystal X-ray diffraction analysis revealed that in the solid state the complex L.TNT consists of a supramolecular crystalline polymeric structure, the formation of which appears to be driven by intermolecular pi-pi interactions between two pyrene units and a TNT molecule held at a distance of 3.2-3.6 A, as well as by intra- and intermolecular hydrogen-bonds among the amide linkages. Nevertheless, the changes in the (1)H NMR, UV/Vis, and fluorescence spectrum, including sharp color changes, are ascribed to a charge-transfer interaction arising from complementary pi-pi overlap between the pyrene subunits and the bound trinitroaromatic substrates. A number of ab initio calculations were also carried out and, considered in concert, they provide further support for the proposed charge-transfer interactions, particularly in the case of L.TNT.

Radiation-luminescence-excited Quantum Dots for in Vivo Multiplexed Optical Imaging

Quantum Dots: Small 10/2010

Cy5.5-labeled Affibody Molecule for Near-infrared Fluorescent Optical Imaging of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Positive Tumors

Affibody protein is an engineered protein scaffold with a three-helical bundle structure. Affibody molecules of small size (7 kD) have great potential for targeting overexpressed cancer biomarkers in vivo. To develop an Affibody-based molecular probe for in vivo optical imaging of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) positive tumors, an anti-EGFR Affibody molecule, Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907) (7 kD), is site-specifically conjugated with a near-IR fluorescence dye, Cy5.5-mono-maleimide. Using fluorescent microscopy, the binding specificity of the probe Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) is checked by a high-EGFR-expressing A431 cell and low-EGFR-expressing MCF7 cells. The binding affinity of Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) (K(D)) to EGFR is 43.6+/-8.4 nM, as determined by flow cytometry. For an in vivo imaging study, the probe shows fast tumor targeting and good tumor contrast as early as 0.5 h postinjection (p.i.) for A431 tumors, while MCF7 tumors are barely visible. An ex vivo imaging study also demonstrates that Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) has high tumor, liver, and kidney uptakes at 24 h p.i.. In conclusion, Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) shows good affinity and high specificity to the EGFR. There is rapid achievement of good tumor-to-normal-tissue contrasts of Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907), thus demonstrating its potential for EGFR-targeted molecular imaging of cancers.

Radiofluorinated Rhenium Cyclized α-MSH Analogues for PET Imaging of Melanocortin Receptor 1

In order to accomplish in vivo molecular imaging of melanoma biomarker melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), several α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) analogues have been labeled with N-succinimidyl-4-¹⁸F-fluorobenzoate (¹⁸)F-SFB) and studied as positron emission tomography (PET) probes in our recent studies. To further pursue a radiofluorinated α-MSH peptide with high clinical translation potential, we utilized 4-nitrophenyl 2-¹⁸F-fluoropropionate (¹⁸F-NFP) to radiofluorinate the transition metal rhenium cyclized α-MSH metallopeptides for PET imaging of MC1R positive malignant melanoma. Metallopeptides Ac-d,Lys-ReCCMSH(Arg¹¹) (two isomers, namely RMSH-1 and RMSH-2) were synthesized using conventional solid phase peptide synthesis chemistry and rhenium cyclization reaction. The two isomers were then conjugated with ¹⁹F-NFP or ¹⁸F-NFP. The resulting cold or radiofluorinated metallopeptides, (¹⁸/¹⁹)F-FP-RMSH-1 and (¹⁸/¹⁹)F-FP-RMSH-2, were further evaluated for their in vitro receptor binding affinities, in vivo biodistribution, and small-animal PET imaging properties. The binding affinities of ¹⁹F-FP-RMSH-1 and ¹⁹F-FP-RMSH-2 were determined to be within low nanomolar range. In vivo studies revealed that both F-labeled metallopeptides possessed good tumor uptake in the B16F10 murine model with high MC1R expression, while possessing much lower uptake in A375M human melanoma xenografts. Moreover, ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-1 displayed more favorable in vivo performance in terms of higher tumor uptake and much lower accumulation in the kidney and liver, when compared to that of ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-2 at 2 h postinjection (p.i.). ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-1 also displayed lower liver and lung uptake when compared with that of the same peptide labeled with ¹⁸F-SFB (named as ¹⁸F-FB-RMSH-1). Small animal PET imaging of ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-1 in mice bearing B16F10 tumors at 1 and 2 h showed good tumor imaging quality. As expected, much lower tumor uptake and poorer tumor/normal organ contrast were observed for A375M model compared to those of the B16F10 model. ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-1 also exhibited higher tumor uptake and better tumor retention when compared with ¹⁸F-FB-RMSH-1. ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-1 demonstrates significant advantages over ¹⁸F-FB-RMSH-1 and ¹⁸F-FP-RMSH-2. It is a promising PET probe for imaging MC1R positive melanoma and MC1R expression in vivo.

Optical Imaging of Reporter Gene Expression Using a Positron-emission-tomography Probe

Reporter gene∕reporter probe technology is one of the most important techniques in molecular imaging. Lately, many reporter gene∕reporter probe systems have been coupled to different imaging modalities such as positron emission tomography (PET) and optical imaging (OI). It has been recently found that OI techniques could be used to monitor radioactive tracers in vitro and in living subjects. In this study, we further demonstrate that a reporter gene∕nuclear reporter probe system [herpes simplex virus type-1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-tk) and 9-(4-(18)F-fluoro-3-[hydroxymethyl] butyl) guanine ([(18)F]FHBG)] could be successfully imaged by OI in vitro and in vivo. OI with radioactive reporter probes will facilitate and broaden the applications of reporter gene∕reporter probe techniques in medical research.

Electronic Structures and Charge Transport of Stacked Annelated β-trithiophenes

Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were performed using a MPWB1K functional to interpret the charge transport (CT) properties of stacked annelated β-trithiophene molecules. The goal was to help understand how the chemical composition, face-to-face stacking, intra- and intermolecular correlations, and the applied electric field affect the CT properties of this organic semiconductor compared with those of the edge-to-face "herringbone" motif. The variations in the frontier molecular orbitals, energy gap, nonadiabatic electron attachment energies (EAE), and vertical detachment energies (VDE) were investigated under an external electric field as a function of the number of stacked layers (n). Two possible CT pathways, monomer-to-monomer (MM) and dimer-to-dimer (DD) transports, were postulated to determine the charge carrier conductivities of these molecules. The results highlight that the intermolecular electronic couplings and electrostatic interactions can significantly affect the stacking geometry, even in more extended structures; displaced stacks with smaller interlayer spacing resulted in more compact stacking and, thus, higher CT efficiency; face-to-face stacking geometries can help to reduce the energy gap and VDE. Despite the fact that common thiophene-based oligomers adopting edge-to-face herringbone motifs exhibited p-type (hole-transporting) characters, the face-to-face stacked models based on annelated β-trithiophenes exhibited remarkably increased n-type (electron-transporting) performances. The electric field in the z-direction produced a small influence on the DD charge transport, whereas both electron and hole mobilities decreased dramatically in the MM case. More importantly, in MM charge transport, the electric field increases the hole mobility so that it is higher than that of the electron.

Preliminary Evaluation of (177)Lu-labeled Knottin Peptides for Integrin Receptor-targeted Radionuclide Therapy

Cystine knot peptides (knottins) 2.5D and 2.5F were recently engineered to bind integrin receptors with high affinity and specificity. These receptors are overexpressed on the surface of a variety of malignant human tumor cells and tumor neovasculature. In this study, 2.5D and 2.5F were labeled with a therapeutic radionuclide, (177)Lu, and the resulting radiopeptides were then evaluated as potential radiotherapeutic agents in a murine model of human glioma xenografts.

Calcitonin Receptor-mediated CFTR Activation in Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells

High levels of calcitonin (CT) observed in medullary thyroid carcinoma and other CT-secreting tumours cause severe diarrhoea. Previous studies have suggested that CT induces active chloride secretion. However, the involvement of CT receptor (CTR) and the molecular mechanisms underlying the modulation of intestinal electrolyte secreting intestinal epithelial cells have not been investigated. Therefore, current studies were undertaken to investigate the direct effects of CT on ion transport in intestinal epithelial cells. Real time quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot analysis demonstrated the expression of CTR in intestinal epithelial T84 cells. Exposure of T84 cells to CT from the basolateral but not from apical side significantly increased short circuit current (I(SC) ) in a dose-dependent manner that was blocked by 1 μM of CTR antagonist, CT8-32. CT-induced I(SC) was blocked by replacing chloride in the bath solutions with equimolar gluconate and was significantly inhibited by the specific cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) inhibitor, CFTR(127inh). Further, biotinylation studies showed that CT increased CFTR levels on the apical membrane. The presence of either the Ca(2+) chelator, bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane tetraacetic acid-acetoxymethyl (BAPTA-AM) ester or the protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, H89, significantly inhibited I(SC) induced by CT (∼32-58% reduction). Response to CT was retained after permeabilization of the basolateral or the apical membranes of T84 cells with nystatin. In conclusion, the activation of CTR by CT induced chloride secretion across T84 monolayers via CFTR channel and the involvement of PKA- and Ca(2+) -dependent signalling pathways. These data elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying CT-induced diarrhoea.

Radiolabeled Affibody-albumin Bioconjugates for HER2-positive Cancer Targeting

Affibody molecules have received significant attention in the fields of molecular imaging and drug development. However, Affibody scaffolds display an extremely high renal uptake, especially when modified with chelators and then labeled with radiometals. This unfavorable property may impact their use as radiotherapeutic agents in general and as imaging probes for the detection of tumors adjacent to kidneys in particular. Herein, we present a simple and generalizable strategy for reducing the renal uptake of Affibody molecules while maintaining their tumor uptake. Human serum albumin (HSA) was consecutively modified by 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid mono-N-hydroxysuccinimide ester (DOTA-NHS ester) and the bifunctional cross-linker sulfosuccinimidyl 4-[N-maleimidomethyl]cyclohexane-1-carboxylate (Sulfo-SMCC). The HER2 Affibody analogue, Ac-Cys-Z(HER2:342), was covalently conjugated with HSA, and the resulting bioconjugate DOTA-HSA-Z(HER2:342) was further radiolabeled with ⁶⁴Cu and ¹¹¹In and evaluated in vitro and in vivo. Radiolabeled DOTA-HSA-Z(HER2:342) conjugates displayed a significant and specific cell uptake into SKOV3 cell cultures. Positron emission tomography (PET) investigations using ⁶⁴Cu-DOTA-HSA-Z(HER2:342) were performed in SKOV3 tumor-bearing nude mice. High tumor uptake values (>14% ID/g at 24 and 48 h) and high liver accumulations but low kidney accumulations were observed. Biodistribution studies and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) investigations using ¹¹¹In-DOTA-HSA-Z(HER2:342) validated these results. At 24 h post injection, the biodistribution data revealed high tumor (16.26% ID/g) and liver (14.11% ID/g) uptake but relatively low kidney uptake (6.06% ID/g). Blocking studies with coinjected, nonlabeled Ac-Cys-Z(HER2:342) confirmed the in vivo specificity of HER2. Radiolabeled DOTA-HSA-Z(HER2:342) Affibody conjugates are promising SPECT and PET-type probes for the imaging of HER2 positive cancer. More importantly, DOTA-HSA-Z(HER2:342) is suitable for labeling with therapeutic radionuclides (e.g., ⁹⁰Y or ¹⁷⁷Lu) for treatment studies. The approach of using HSA to optimize the pharmacokinetics and biodistribution profile of Affibodies may be extended to the design of many other targeting molecules.

Macrocyclic Chelator Assembled RGD Multimers for Tumor Targeting

Macrocyclic chelators have been extensively used for complexation of metal ions. A widely used chelator, DOTA, has been explored as a molecular platform to assemble multiple bioactive peptides in this paper. The multivalent DOTA-peptide bioconjugates demonstrate promising tumor targeting ability.

Synthesis and Radioluminescence of PEGylated Eu(3+) -doped Nanophosphors As Bioimaging Probes

One-step Radiosynthesis of ¹⁸F-AlF-NOTA-RGD₂ for Tumor Angiogenesis PET Imaging

One of the major obstacles of the clinical translation of (18)F-labeled arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) peptides has been the laborious multistep radiosynthesis. In order to facilitate the application of RGD-based positron emission tomography (PET) probes in the clinical setting we investigated in this study the feasibility of using the chelation reaction between Al(18)F and a macrocyclic chelator-conjugated dimeric RGD peptide as a simple one-step (18)F labeling strategy for development of a PET probe for tumor angiogenesis imaging.

Charge Transport Properties of Stacking Bisindenoanthrazolines: DFT Studies

Organic semiconductors to date having cofacial stacking motif are scarce compared to those having herringbone motif. Recently, Ahmed and co-workers have reported a series of novel n-type bisindenoanthrazolines (BIDAs) [Chem. Mater. 2010, 22, 5786], among which DADF and DADK adopt different slipped cofacial arrangements exhibiting distinct electron transport abilities. Here, we performed computational studies to understand the relationship between charge transport and molecular packing for these BIDAs molecules. This work focuses on the intrinsic molecular factors required for efficient and long-range charge transfer. Unlike the previous studies only focusing the charge injection barriers or the carrier mobilities, herein, we present the notion that lower electron injection barrier and higher intrinsic electron mobility should be both satisfied to achieve better n-type OFETs. We also note that the actual mobility can be significantly underestimated due to the limitation of the space-charge limited current method. Through computational modeling, we rationalized the superior electron conductivity of DADK and also shed light on the favorable or undesirable properties for efficient charge transport of BIDAs. Another key finding is that the intrinsic electron and hole mobilities are quite deviated from each other rather than comparable in current mobility calculations.

A Novel 18F-labeled Two-helix Scaffold Protein for PET Imaging of HER2-positive Tumor

Two-helix scaffold proteins (~ 5 kDa) against human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) have been discovered in our previous work. In this research we aimed to develop an (18)F-labeled two-helix scaffold protein for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of HER2-positive tumors.

In Vivo Targeting of HER2-positive Tumor Using 2-helix Affibody Molecules

Molecular imaging of human epidermal growth factor receptor type 2 (HER2) expression has drawn significant attention because of the unique role of the HER2 gene in diagnosis, therapy and prognosis of human breast cancer. In our previous research, a novel cyclic 2-helix small protein, MUT-DS, was discovered as an anti-HER2 Affibody analog with high affinity through rational protein design and engineering. MUT-DS was then evaluated for positron emission tomography (PET) of HER2-positive tumor by labeling with two radionuclides, (68)Ga and (18)F, with relatively short half-life (t (1/2) < 2 h). In order to fully study the in vivo behavior of 2-helix small protein and demonstrate that it could be a robust platform for labeling with a variety of radionuclides for different applications, in this study, MUT-DS was further radiolabeled with (64)Cu or (111)In and evaluated for in vivo targeting of HER2-positive tumor in mice. Design 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) conjugated MUT-DS (DOTA-MUT-DS) was chemically synthesized using solid phase peptide synthesizer and I(2) oxidation. DOTA-MUT-DS was then radiolabeled with (64)Cu or (111)In to prepare the HER2 imaging probe ((64)Cu/(111)In-DOTA-MUT-DS). Both biodistribution and microPET imaging of the probe were evaluated in nude mice bearing subcutaneous HER2-positive SKOV3 tumors. DOTA-MUT-DS could be successfully synthesized and radiolabeled with (64)Cu or (111)In. Biodistribution study showed that tumor uptake value of (64)Cu or (111)In-labeled DOTA-MUT-DS was 4.66 ± 0.38 or 2.17 ± 0.15%ID/g, respectively, in nude mice bearing SKOV3 xenografts (n = 3) at 1 h post-injection (p.i.). Tumor-to-blood and tumor-to-muscle ratios for (64)Cu-DOTA-MUT-DS were attained to be 3.05 and 3.48 at 1 h p.i., respectively, while for (111)In-DOTA-MUT-DS, they were 2.04 and 3.19, respectively. Co-injection of the cold Affibody molecule Z(HER2:342) with (64)Cu-DOTA-MUT-DS specifically reduced the SKOV3 tumor uptake of the probe by 48%. (111)In-DOTA-MUT-DS displayed lower liver uptake at all the time points investigated and higher tumor to blood ratios at 4 and 20 h p.i., when compared with (64)Cu-DOTA-MUT-DS. This study demonstrates that the 2-helix protein based probes, (64)Cu/(111)In DOTA-MUT-DS, are promising molecular probes for imaging HER2-positive tumor. Two-helix small protein scaffold holds great promise as a novel and robust platform for imaging and therapy applications.

Harnessing the Power of Radionuclides for Optical Imaging: Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging

Over the past several years, nuclear imaging modalities such as PET and SPECT have received much attention because they have been instrumental not only in preclinical cancer research but also in nuclear medicine. Yet nuclear imaging is limited by high instrumentation cost and subsequently low availability to basic researchers. Cerenkov radiation, a relativistic physical phenomenon that was discovered 70 years ago, has recently become an intriguing subject of study in molecular imaging because of its potential in augmenting nuclear imaging, particularly in preclinical small-animal studies. The intrinsic capability of radionuclides emitting luminescent light from decay is promising because of the possibility of bridging nuclear imaging with optical imaging-a modality that is much less expensive, is easier to use, and has higher throughput than its nuclear counterpart. Thus, with the maturation of this novel imaging technology using Cerenkov radiation, which is termed Cerenkov luminescence imaging, it is foreseeable that advances in both nuclear imaging and preclinical research involving radioisotopes will be significantly accelerated in the near future.

Non-invasive Imaging of Cysteine Cathepsin Activity in Solid Tumors Using a 64Cu-labeled Activity-based Probe

The papain family of cysteine cathepsins are actively involved in multiple stages of tumorigenesis. Because elevated cathepsin activity can be found in many types of human cancers, they are promising biomarkers that can be used to target radiological contrast agents for tumor detection. However, currently there are no radiological imaging agents available for these important molecular targets. We report here the development of positron emission tomography (PET) radionuclide-labeled probes that target the cysteine cathepsins by formation of an enzyme activity-dependent bond with the active site cysteine. These probes contain an acyloxymethyl ketone (AOMK) functional group that irreversibly labels the active site cysteine of papain family proteases attached to a 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) tag for labeling with (64)Cu for PET imaging studies. We performed biodistribution and microPET imaging studies in nude mice bearing subcutaneous tumors expressing various levels of cysteine cathepsin activity and found that the extent of probe uptake by tumors correlated with overall protease activity as measured by biochemical methods. Furthermore, probe signals could be reduced by pre-treatment with a general cathepsin inhibitor. We also found that inclusion of a Cy5 tag on the probe increased tumor uptake relative to probes lacking this fluorogenic dye. Overall, these results demonstrate that small molecule activity-based probes carrying radio-tracers can be used to image protease activity in living subjects.

PET Imaging of Integrin Positive Tumors Using F Labeled Knottin Peptides

Purpose: Cystine knot (knottin) peptides, engineered to bind with high affinity to integrin receptors, have shown promise as molecular imaging agents in living subjects. The aim of the current study was to evaluate tumor uptake and in vivo biodistribution of (18)F-labeled knottins in a U87MG glioblastoma model.Procedures: Engineered knottin mutants 2.5D and 2.5F were synthesized using solid phase peptide synthesis and were folded in vitro, followed by radiolabeling with 4-nitrophenyl 2-(18)F-fluoropropionate ((18)F-NFP). The resulting probes, (18)F-FP-2.5D and (18)F-FP-2.5F, were evaluated in nude mice bearing U87MG tumor xenografts using microPET and biodistribution studies.Results: MicroPET imaging studies with (18)F-FP-2.5D and (18)F-FP-2.5F demonstrated high tumor uptake in U87MG xenograft mouse models. The probes exhibited rapid clearance from the blood and kidneys, thus leading to excellent tumor-to-normal tissue contrast. Specificity studies confirmed that (18)F-FP-2.5D and (18)F-FP-2.5F had reduced tumor uptake when co-injected with a large excess of the peptidomimetic c(RGDyK) as a blocking agent.Conclusions: (18)F-FP-2.5D and (18)F-FP-2.5F showed reduced gallbladder uptake compared with previously published (18)F-FB-2.5D. (18)F-FP-2.5D and (18)F-FP-2.5F enabled integrin-specific PET imaging of U87MG tumors with good imaging contrasts. (18)F-FP-2.5D demonstrated more desirable pharmacokinetics compared to (18)F-FP-2.5F, and thus has greater potential for clinical translation.

Proof-of-concept Study of Monitoring Cancer Drug Therapy with Cerenkov Luminescence Imaging

Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) has emerged as a less expensive, easier-to-use, and higher-throughput alternative to other nuclear imaging modalities such as PET. It is expected that CLI will find many applications in biomedical research such as cancer detection, probe development, drug screening, and therapy monitoring. In this study, we explored the possibility of using CLI to monitor drug efficacy by comparisons against PET. To assess the performance of both modalities in therapy monitoring, 2 murine tumor models (large cell lung cancer cell line H460 and prostate cancer cell line PC3) were given bevacizumab versus vehicle treatments. Two common radiotracers, 3'-deoxy-3'-(18)F-fluorothymidine ((18)F-FLT) and (18)F-FDG, were used to monitor bevacizumab treatment efficacy.

177Lu-DO3A-HSA-Z EGFR:1907: Characterization As a Potential Radiopharmaceutical for Radionuclide Therapy of EGFR-expressing Head and Neck Carcinomas

Epidermal growth factor receptor 1 (EGFR) is an attractive target for radionuclide therapy of head and neck carcinomas. Affibody molecules against EGFR (Z(EGFR)) show excellent tumor localizations in imaging studies. However, one major drawback is that radiometal-labeled Affibody molecules display extremely high uptakes in the radiosensitive kidneys which may impact their use as radiotherapeutic agents. The purpose of this study is to further explore whether radiometal-labeled human serum albumin (HSA)-Z(EFGR) bioconjugates display desirable profiles for the use in radionuclide therapy of EGFR-positive head and neck carcinomas. The Z(EFGR) analog, Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907), was site-specifically conjugated with HSA. The resulting bioconjugate 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7-triacetic acid (DO3A)-HSA-Z(EGFR:1907) was then radiolabeled with either (64)Cu or (177)Lu and subjected to in vitro cell uptake and internalization studies using the human oral squamous carcinoma cell line SAS. Positron emission tomography (PET), single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), and biodistribution studies were conducted using SAS-tumor-bearing mice. Cell studies revealed a high (8.43 ± 0.55 % at 4 h) and specific (0.95 ± 0.09 % at 4 h) uptake of (177)Lu-DO3A-HSA-Z(EGFR:1907) as determined by blocking with nonradioactive Z(EGFR:1907). The internalization of (177)Lu-DO3A-HSA-Z(EGFR:1907) was verified in vitro and found to be significantly higher than that of (177)Lu-labeled Z(EFGR) at 2-24 h of incubation. PET and SPECT studies showed good tumor imaging contrasts. The biodistribution of (177)Lu-DO3A-HSA-Z(EGFR:1907) in SAS-tumor-bearing mice displayed high tumor uptake (5.1 ± 0.44 % ID/g) and liver uptake (31.5 ± 7.66 % ID/g) and moderate kidney uptake (8.5 ± 1.08 % ID/g) at 72 h after injection. (177)Lu-DO3A-HSA-Z(EGFR:1907) shows promising in vivo profiles and may be a potential radiopharmaceutical for radionuclide therapy of EGFR-expressing head and neck carcinomas.

In Vivo Biodistribution and Small Animal PET of (64)Cu-Labeled Antimicrobial Peptoids

Peptoids are a rapidly developing class of biomimetic polymers based on oligo-N-substituted glycine backbones, designed to mimic peptides and proteins. Inspired by natural antimicrobial peptides, a group of cationic amphipathic peptoids has been successfully discovered with potent, broad-spectrum activity against pathogenic bacteria; however, there are limited studies to address the in vivo pharmacokinetics of the peptoids. Herein, (64)Cu-labeled DOTA conjugates of three different peptoids and two control peptides were synthesized and assayed in vivo by both biodistribution studies and small animal positron emission tomography (PET). The study was designed in a way to assess how structural differences of the peptidomimetics affect in vivo pharmacokinetics. As amphipathic molecules, major uptake of the peptoids occurred in the liver. Increased kidney uptake was observed by deleting one hydrophobic residue in the peptoid, and (64)Cu-3 achieved the highest kidney uptake of all the conjugates tested in this study. In comparison to peptides, our data indicated that peptoids had general in vivo properties of higher tissue accumulation, slower elimination, and higher in vivo stability. Different administration routes (intravenous, intraperitoneal, and oral) were investigated with peptoids. When administered orally, the peptoids showed poor bioavailability, reminiscent of that of peptide. However, remarkably longer passage through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract without rapid digestion was observed for peptoids. These unique in vivo properties of peptoids were rationalized by efficient cellular membrane permeability and protease resistance of peptoids. The results observed in the biodistribution studies could be confirmed by PET imaging, which provides a reliable way to evaluate in vivo pharmacokinetic properties of peptoids noninvasively and in real time. The pharmacokinetic data presented here can provide insight for further development of the antimicrobial peptoids as pharmaceuticals.

111In-labeled Cystine-knot Peptides Based on the Agouti-related Protein for Targeting Tumor Angiogenesis

Agouti-related protein (AgRP) is a 4-kDa cystine-knot peptide of human origin with four disulfide bonds and four solvent-exposed loops. The cell adhesion receptor integrin α(v)β(3) is an important tumor angiogenesis factor that determines the invasiveness and metastatic ability of many malignant tumors. AgRP mutants have been engineered to bind to integrin α(v)β(3) with high affinity and specificity using directed evolution. Here, AgRP mutants 7C and 6E were radiolabeled with (111)In and evaluated for in vivo targeting of tumor integrin α(v)β(3) receptors. AgRP peptides were conjugated to the metal chelator 1, 4, 7, 10-tetra-azacyclododecane- N, N', N″, N'''-tetraacetic acid (DOTA) and radiolabeled with (111)In. The stability of the radiopeptides (111)In-DOTA-AgRP-7C and (111)In-DOTA-AgRP-6E was tested in phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) and mouse serum, respectively. Cell uptake assays of the radiolabeled peptides were performed in U87MG cell lines. Biodistribution studies were performed to evaluate the in vivo performance of the two resulting probes using mice bearing integrin-expressing U87MG xenograft tumors. Both AgRP peptides were easily labeled with (111)In in high yield and radiochemical purity (>99%). The two probes exhibited high stability in phosphate-buffered saline and mouse serum. Compared with (111)In-DOTA-AgRP-6E, (111)In-DOTA-AgRP-7C showed increased U87MG tumor uptake and longer tumor retention (5.74 ± 1.60 and 1.29 ± 0.02%ID/g at 0.5 and 24 h, resp.), which was consistent with measurements of cell uptake. Moreover, the tumor uptake of (111)In-DOTA-AgRP-7C was specifically inhibited by coinjection with an excess of the integrin-binding peptidomimetic c(RGDyK). Thus, (111)In-DOTA-AgRP-7C is a promising probe for targeting integrin α(v)β(3) positive tumors in living subjects.

Evaluation of Four Affibody-Based Near-Infrared Fluorescent Probes for Optical Imaging of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Positive Tumors

The epidermal growth factor receptor 1 (EGFR) has become an attractive target for cancer molecular imaging and therapy. An Affibody protein with strong binding affinity for EGFR, Z(EGFR:1907), has been reported. We are interested in translating Affibody molecules to potential clinical optical imaging of EGFR positive cancers. In this study, four anti-EGFR Affibody based near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probes were thus prepared, and their in vivo performance was evaluated in the mice bearing EGFR positive subcutaneous A431 tumors. Methods: The Affibody analogue, Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907), was synthesized using solid-phase peptide synthesis method. The purified small protein was then site-specifically conjugated with four NIR fluorescent dyes, Cy5.5-monomaleimide, Alex-Fluor-680-maleimide, SRfluor680-maleimide, or IRDye-800CW-maleimide, to produce four optical probes-Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907), Alexa680-Z(EGFR:1907), SR680-Z(EGFR:1907), and 800CW-Z(EGFR:1907). The EGFR binding property and specificity of the four NIR fluorescent Affibody probes were studied by fluorescence microscopy using high EGFR expressing A431 cells and low expressing MCF7 cells. The binding affinities of the probes (K(D)) to EGFR were further determined by flow cytometry. In vivo optical imaging of the four probes was performed in the mice bearing subcutaneous A431 tumors. Results: The four NIR optical probes were prepared in high purity. In vitro cell imaging studies demonstrated that all of them could specifically bind to EGFR positive A431 cells while showing minimum uptake in low EGFR expressing MCF7 cells. Flow cytometry showed that Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) and Alexa680-Z(EGFR:1907) possessed high binding affinity in low nanomolar range (43.6 ± 8.4 and 28.3 ± 4.9, respectively). In vivo optical imaging of the four probes revealed that they all showed fast tumor targeting ability and good tumor-to-normal tissue contrast as early as 0.5 h postinjection (p.i.). The tumor-to-normal tissue ratio reached a peak at 2 to 4 h p.i. by regional of interest (ROI) analysis of images. Ex vivo studies further demonstrated that the four probes had high tumor uptakes. Particularly, Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) and Alex680-Z(EGFR:1907) displayed higher tumor-to-normal tissue ratios than those of the other two probes. Conclusion: This work demonstrates that Affibody proteins can be modified with different NIR fluorescent dyes and used for imaging of EGFR expressing tumors. Different NIR fluorescent dyes have variable impact on the in vitro binding and in vivo performance of the resulting Affibody based probes. Therefore, selection of an appropriate NIRF label is important for optical probe development. The probes developed are promising for further tumor imaging applications and clinical translation. Particularly, Alex680-Z(EGFR:1907) and Cy5.5-Z(EGFR:1907) are excellent candidates as EGFR-targeted probes for optical imaging.

PET of EGFR Expression with an 18F-labeled Affibody Molecule

Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is often overexpressed in a variety of human cancers, and its expression is associated with poor prognosis for many cancer types. However, an accurate technique to noninvasively image EGFR expression in vivo is not available in the clinical setting. In this research, an Affibody analog, anti-EGFR Ac-Cys-Z(EGFR:1907), was successfully site-specifically (18)F-labeled for PET of EGFR expression.

Radioluminescent Nanophosphors Enable Multiplexed Small-animal Imaging

We demonstrate the ability to image multiple nanoparticle-based contrast agents simultaneously using a nanophosphor platform excited by either radiopharmaceutical or X-ray irradiation. These radioluminescent nanoparticles emit optical light at unique wavelengths depending on their lanthanide dopant, enabling multiplexed imaging. This study demonstrates the separation of two distinct nanophosphor contrast agents in gelatin phantoms with a recovered phosphor separation correlation of -0.98. The ability to distinguish the two nanophosphors and a Cerenkov component is then demonstrated in a small animal phantom. Combined with the high-resolution potential of low-scattering X-ray excitation, this imaging technique may be a promising method to probe molecular processes in living organisms.

Endoscopic Imaging of Cerenkov Luminescence

We demonstrate feasibility of endoscopic imaging of Cerenkov light originated when charged nuclear particles, emitted from radionuclides, travel through a biological tissue of living subjects at superluminal velocity. The endoscopy imaging system consists of conventional optical fiber bundle/ clinical endoscopes, an optical imaging lens system, and a sensitive low-noise charge coupled device (CCD) camera. Our systematic studies using phantom samples show that Cerenkov light from as low as 1 µCi of radioactivity emitted from (18)F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) can be coupled and transmitted through conventional optical fibers and endoscopes. In vivo imaging experiments with tumor bearing mice, intravenously administered with (18)F-FDG, further demonstrated that Cerenkov luminescence endoscopy is a promising new tool in the field of endoscopic molecular imaging.

Activatable Near-infrared Fluorescent Probe for in Vivo Imaging of Fibroblast Activation Protein-alpha

Fibroblast activation protein-alpha (FAPα) is a cell surface glycoprotein which is selectively expressed by tumor-associated fibroblasts in malignant tumors but rarely on normal tissues. FAPα has also been reported to promote tumor growth and invasion and therefore has been of increasing interest as a promising target for designing tumor-targeted drugs and imaging agents. Although medicinal study on FAPα inhibitors has led to the discovery of many FAPα-targeting inhibitors including a drug candidate in a phase II clinical trial, the development of imaging probes to monitor the expression and activity of FAPα in vivo has largely lagged behind. Herein, we report an activatable near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent probe (ANP(FAP)) for in vivo optical imaging of FAPα. The ANP(FAP) consists of a NIR dye (Cy5.5) and a quencher dye (QSY21) which are linked together by a short peptide sequence (KGPGPNQC) specific for FAPα cleavage. Because of the efficient fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between Cy5.5 and QSY21 in ANP(FAP), high contrast on the NIR fluorescence signal can be achieved after the cleavage of the peptide sequence by FAPα both in vitro and in vivo. In vitro assay on ANP(FAP) indicated the specificity of the probe to FAPα. The in vivo optical imaging using ANP(FAP) showed fast tumor uptake as well as high tumor to background contrast on U87MG tumor models with FAPα expression, while much lower signal and tumor contrast were observed in the C6 tumor without FAPα expression, demonstrating the in vivo targeting specificity of the ANP(FAP). Ex vivo imaging also demonstrated ANP(FAP) had high tumor uptake at 4 h post injection. Collectively, these results indicated that ANP(FAP) could serve as a useful NIR optical probe for early detection of FAPα expressing tumors.

Intraoperative Imaging of Tumors Using Cerenkov Luminescence Endoscopy: a Feasibility Experimental Study

Cerenkov luminescence imaging (CLI) is an emerging new molecular imaging modality that is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, and has high throughput. CLI can image clinically available PET and SPECT probes using optical instrumentation. Cerenkov luminescence endoscopy (CLE) is one of the most intriguing applications that promise potential clinical translation. We developed a prototype customized fiberscopic Cerenkov imaging system to investigate the potential in guiding minimally invasive surgical resection.

A Novel Radiofluorinated Agouti-related Protein for Tumor Angiogenesis Imaging

A novel protein scaffold based on the cystine knot domain of the agouti-related protein (AgRP) has been used to engineer mutants that can bind to the α(v)β(3) integrin receptor with high affinity and specificity. In the current study, an (18)F-labeled AgRP mutant (7C) was prepared and evaluated as a positron emission tomography (PET) probe for imaging tumor angiogenesis. AgRP-7C was synthesized by solid phase peptide synthesis and site-specifically conjugated with 4-nitrophenyl 2-(18/19)F-fluoropropionate ((18/19)F-NFP) to produce the fluorinated peptide, (18/19)F-FP-AgRP-7C. Competition binding assays were used to measure the relative affinities of AgRP-7C and (19)F-FP-AgRP-7C to human glioblastoma U87MG cells that overexpress α(v)β(3) integrin. In addition, biodistribution, metabolic stability, and small animal PET imaging studies were conducted with (18)F-FP-AgRP-7C using U87MG tumor-bearing mice. Both AgRP-7C and (19)F-FP-AgRP-7C specifically competed with (125)I-echistatin for binding to U87MG cells with half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) values of 9.40 and 8.37 nM, respectively. Non-invasive small animal PET imaging revealed that (18)F-FP-AgRP-7C exhibited rapid and good tumor uptake (3.24 percentage injected dose per gram [% ID/g] at 0.5 h post injection [p.i.]). The probe was rapidly cleared from the blood and from most organs, resulting in excellent tumor-to-normal tissue contrasts. Tumor uptake and rapid clearance were further confirmed with biodistribution studies. Furthermore, co-injection of (18)F-FP-AgRP-7C with a large molar excess of blocking peptide c(RGDyK) significantly inhibited tumor uptake in U87MG xenograft models, demonstrating the integrin-targeting specificity of the probe. Metabolite assays showed that the probe had high stability, making it suitable for in vivo applications. (18)F-FP-AgRP-7C exhibits promising in vivo properties such as rapid tumor targeting, good tumor uptake, and excellent tumor-to-normal tissue ratios, and warrants further investigation as a novel PET probe for imaging tumor angiogenesis.

Electric Field Assisted Oxygen Removal from the Basal Plane of the Graphitic Material

We provide a novel strategy to eliminate the epoxy group from the basal plane of graphene platelets. Given that the current reduction methods are unsatisfactory to clean the epoxides or sometimes cause undesirable structure deformations, the proposed strategy restores the original hexagonal carbon network without creating other new defects. To the best of our knowledge, the electric field mediated graphene oxide (GO) reduction has not yet been systematically investigated. The capability would permit the improvement of existing GO reduction methods and assist in the fabrication of high-quality graphitic materials. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Novel, Cysteine-Modified Chelation Strategy for the Incorporation of [M(I)(CO)(3)](+) (M = Re, (99m)Tc) in an α-MSH Peptide

Engineering peptide-based targeting agents with residues for site-specific and stable complexation of radionuclides is a highly desirable strategy for producing diagnostic and therapeutic agents for cancer and other diseases. In this report, a model N-S-N(Py) ligand (3) and a cysteine-derived α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) peptide (6) were used as novel demonstrations of a widely applicable chelation strategy for incorporation of the [M(I)(CO)(3)](+) (M = Re, (99m)Tc) core into peptide-based molecules for radiopharmaceutical applications. The structural details of the core ligand-metal complexes as model systems were demonstrated by full chemical characterization of fac-[Re(I)(CO)(3)(N,S,N(Py)-3)](+) (4) and comparative high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis between 4 and [(99m)Tc(I)(CO)(3)(N,S,N(Py)-3)](+) (4a). The α-MSH analogue bearing the N-S-N(Py) chelate on a modified cysteine residue (6) was generated and complexed with [M(I)(CO)(3)](+) to confirm the chelation strategy's utility when applied in a peptide-based targeting agent. Characterization of the Re(I)(CO)(3)-6 peptide conjugate (7) confirmed the efficient incorporation of the metal center, and the (99m)Tc(I)(CO)(3)-6 analogue (7a) was explored as a potential single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) compound for imaging the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) in melanoma. Peptide 7a showed excellent radiolabeling yields and in vitro stability during amino acid challenge and serum stability assays. In vitro B16F10 melanoma cell uptake of 7a reached a modest value of 2.3 ± 0.08% of applied activity at 2 h at 37 °C, while this uptake was significantly reduced by coincubation with a nonlabeled α-MSH analogue, NAPamide (3.2 μM) (P < 0.05). In vivo SPECT/X-ray computed tomography (SPECT/CT) imaging and biodistribution of 7a were evaluated in a B16F10 melanoma xenografted mouse model. SPECT/CT imaging clearly visualized the tumor at 1 h post injection (p.i.) with high tumor-to-background contrast. Blocking studies with coinjected NAPamide (10 mg per kg of mouse body weight) confirmed the in vivo specificity of 7a for MC1R-positive tumors. Biodistribution results with 7a yielded a moderate tumor uptake of 1.20 ± 0.09 percentage of the injected radioactive dose per gram of tissue (% ID/g) at 1 h p.i. Relatively high uptake of 7a was also seen in the kidneys and liver at 1 h p.i. (6.55 ± 0.36% ID/g and 4.44 ± 0.17% ID/g, respectively), although reduced kidney uptake was seen at 4 h p.i. (3.20 ± 0.48% ID/g). These results demonstrate the utility of the novel [M(I)(CO)(3)](+) chelation strategy when applied in a targeting peptide.

Continuous Sensing of Tumor-targeted Molecular Probes with a Vertical Cavity Surface Emitting Laser-based Biosensor

ABSTRACT. Molecular optical imaging is a widespread technique for interrogating molecular events in living subjects. However, current approaches preclude long-term, continuous measurements in awake, mobile subjects, a strategy crucial in several medical conditions. Consequently, we designed a novel, lightweight miniature biosensor for in vivo continuous optical sensing. The biosensor contains an enclosed vertical-cavity surface-emitting semiconductor laser and an adjacent pair of near-infrared optically filtered detectors. We employed two sensors (dual sensing) to simultaneously interrogate normal and diseased tumor sites. Having established the sensors are precise with phantom and in vivo studies, we performed dual, continuous sensing in tumor (human glioblastoma cells) bearing mice using the targeted molecular probe cRGD-Cy5.5, which targets αVβ3 cell surface integrins in both tumor neovasculature and tumor. The sensors capture the dynamic time-activity curve of the targeted molecular probe. The average tumor to background ratio after signal calibration for cRGD-Cy5.5 injection is approximately 2.43±0.95 at 1 h and 3.64±1.38 at 2 h (N=5 mice), consistent with data obtained with a cooled charge coupled device camera. We conclude that our novel, portable, precise biosensor can be used to evaluate both kinetics and steady state levels of molecular probes in various disease applications.

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