Near-infrared (NIR) fluorescence imaging agents are promising tools for noninvasive cancer imaging. This study explored the specific uptake and retention of a NIR heptamethine carbocyanine MHI-148 dye by canine cancer cells and tissues and human prostate cancer (PCa) specimens and also the dye uptake mechanisms. The accumulation of MHI-148 was detected specifically in canine cancer cells and tissues and freshly harvested human PCa tissues xenografted in mice by NIR fluorescence microscopy and whole-body NIR optical imaging. Specific dye uptake in canine spontaneous tumors was further confirmed by PET imaging. Higher hypoxia-inducible factor-1? (HIF-1?) and organic anion-transporting polypeptide (OATP) protein and mRNA expression was demonstrated by multiplex quantum dots labeling and qPCR in tumors over that of normal tissues. Treating cancer cells with HIF-1? stabilizers activated HIF-1? downstream target genes, induced OATP superfamily gene expression and enhanced cellular uptake and retention of NIR dyes. Moreover, silencing HIF-1? by siRNA significantly decreased OATP mRNA expression and blocked NIR dye uptake in cancer cells. Together, these results demonstrated the preferential uptake of NIR dyes by canine and human cancer cells and tissues via the HIF-1?/OATPs signaling axis, which provides insights into future application of these dyes for cancer detection and treatment.
The potential application of multiplexed quantum dot labeling (MQDL) for cancer detection and prognosis and monitoring therapeutic responses has attracted the interests of bioengineers, pathologists and cancer biologists. Many published studies claim that MQDL is effective for cancer biomarker detection and useful in cancer diagnosis and prognosis, these studies have not been standardized against quantitative biochemical and molecular determinations. In the present study, we used a molecularly characterized human prostate cancer cell model exhibiting activated c-Met signaling with epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and lethal metastatic progression to bone and soft tissues as the gold standard, and compared the c-Met cell signaling network in this model, in clinical human prostate cancer tissue specimens and in a castration-resistant human prostate cancer xenograft model. We observed c-Met signaling network activation, manifested by increased phosphorylated c-Met in all three. The downstream survival signaling network was mediated by NF-?B and Mcl-1 and EMT was driven by receptor activator of NF-?B ligand (RANKL), at the single cell level in clinical prostate cancer specimens and the xenograft model. Results were confirmed by real-time RT-PCR and western blots in a human prostate cancer cell model. MQDL is a powerful tool for assessing biomarker expression and it offers molecular insights into cancer progression at both the cell and tissue level with high degree of sensitivity.
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