Optical imaging of matrix metalloproteinase-2 activity in tumors: feasibility study in a mouse model

Radiology. 2001 Nov;221(2):523-9. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2212010368.


Purpose: To develop an optical imaging method to determine the expression level of tumoral matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) in vivo.

Materials and methods: An optical contrast agent was developed that was highly activatable by means of MMP-2-induced conversion. Signal characteristics of the probe were quantified ex vivo with a recombinant enzyme. Animal tumor models were established with MMP-2-positive (human fibrosarcoma cell line, n = 4) and MMP-2-negative (well-differentiated mammary adenocarcinoma, n = 4) tumor cell lines. Both tumors were implanted into nude mice and were optically imaged after intravenous administration of the MMP-2-sensitive probe.

Results: The MMP-2-sensitive probe was activated by MMP-2 in vitro, producing up to an 850% increase in near-infrared fluorescent signal intensity. This activation could be blocked by MMP-2 inhibitors. MMP-2-positive tumors were easily identified as high-signal-intensity regions as early as 1 hour after intravenous injection of the MMP-2 probe, while contralateral MMP-2-negative tumors showed little to no signal intensity. A nonspecific control probe showed little to no activation in MMP-2-positive tumors.

Conclusion: It is feasible to image MMP-2 enzyme activity in vivo by using near-infrared optical imaging technology and "smart" matrix metalloproteinase-sensitive probes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / biosynthesis
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2 / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasms, Experimental / enzymology*
  • Spectrum Analysis / methods


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 2