Targeting of RGD-modified proteins to tumor vasculature: a pharmacokinetic and cellular distribution study

Int J Cancer. 2002 Dec 10;102(5):469-75. doi: 10.1002/ijc.10727.


Angiogenesis-associated integrin alpha(v)beta(3) represents an attractive target for therapeutic intervention because it becomes highly upregulated on angiogenic endothelium and plays an important role in the survival of endothelial cells. Cyclic RGD peptides were prior shown to have a high affinity for alpha(v)beta(3) and can induce apoptosis of endothelial cells. In our laboratory, monocyclic RGD peptides (cRGDfK) were chemically coupled to a protein backbone. Previous results demonstrated that the resulting RGDpep-HuMab conjugate bound with increased avidity to alpha(v)beta(3)/alpha(v)beta(5) on endothelial cells. In our present study, RGDpep-HuMab was injected intravenously and intraperitoneally in B16.F10 tumor-bearing mice to determine its pharmacokinetics and organ distribution. In the tumor, the RGDpep-HuMab conjugate specifically localized at the endothelium as was demonstrated by immunohistochemistry. The control RADpep-HuMab conjugate was not detected in the tumor. Besides tumor localization RGDpep-HuMab was found in liver and spleen associated with macrophages. This uptake by macrophages is probably responsible for the more rapid clearance of RGDpep-HuMab from the circulation than HuMab and RADpep-HuMab. The half-life of RGDpep-HuMab (90 min) was still considerably longer than that of free RGD peptides (<10 min). This prolonged circulation time may be favorable for drug targeting strategies because the target cells are exposed to the conjugate for a longer time period. Taken together these results indicate that RGD-modified proteins are suitable carriers to deliver therapeutic agents into tumor or inflammation induced angiogenic endothelial cells.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / administration & dosage
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Male
  • Melanoma, Experimental / blood supply*
  • Melanoma, Experimental / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oligopeptides / administration & dosage
  • Oligopeptides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Spleen / metabolism
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Macromolecular Substances
  • Oligopeptides
  • arginyl-glycyl-aspartic acid