Carcinoembryonic antigen as a target for radioimmunotherapy of human medullary thyroid carcinoma: antibody processing, targeting, and experimental therapy with 131I and 90Y labeled MAbs

Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 1999 Feb;14(1):37-47. doi: 10.1089/cbr.1999.14.37.


The poor prognosis of patients with advanced medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) has prompted a search for new treatment modalities. In this report we explore the characteristics of carcinoembyronic antigen (CEA) as a target for radioimmunotherapy (RAIT) of MTC, with respect to antibody processing, targeting, and experimental therapy. In vitro studies showed a high level of CEA expression on the cell surface of the MTC cell line TT. MAbs bound to the cell were predominantly retained for several days, although there was also a significant level of internalization and catabolism. Immunohistology of frozen sections of tumor xenografts demonstrated that approximately half of the cells were darkly stained, however, some cells expressed little or no CEA. In biodistribution studies in nude mice bearing TT tumors, the mean percent injected dose per gram of tumor observed at three days post injection (time of maximum uptake) of 125I-MN-14 was 19.7%. When the MAb was labeled with 88Y, a residualizing label, a much higher accretion, 50.5%, was observed at the time of maximum uptake (7 days). Significant anti-tumor effects were seen at the maximum tolerated doses of 131I- and 90Y-MN-14, compared with relatively rapid tumor growth in untreated animals or those treated with the same dose of control MAbs. Importantly, it was observed that 90Y-MN-14 yielded significantly improved therapeutic efficacy in comparison to 131I-MN-14, which may have important implications for design and conduct of future clinical trials for the treatment of MTC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / immunology*
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / immunology
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / radiotherapy*
  • Drug Screening Assays, Antitumor
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / administration & dosage
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*
  • Maximum Tolerated Dose
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Radioimmunotherapy*
  • Radiometry
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / immunology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Transplantation, Heterologous
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / administration & dosage
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / pharmacokinetics
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes / therapeutic use*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Neoplasm
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Iodine Radioisotopes
  • Yttrium Radioisotopes