Background and purpose: Anticancer therapy induces apoptosis in a dose- and time-dependent fashion. (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V scintigraphy (TAVS) enables non-invasive in vivo imaging of treatment-induced apoptosis. We identified the visual patterns of (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V tumour uptake and related these to treatment response.
Patients and methods: Thirty-three patients with malignant lymphoma (n=26), leukaemia (n=1) NSCLC (n=5), H&NSCC (n=1), scheduled for radiotherapy (n=27), platinum-based chemotherapy (n=5) or concurrent chemoradiation (n=1), underwent TAVS before and early after the start of treatment. Planar and SPECT images were visually examined to assess changes in tumour (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V uptake. Twenty-nine patients were eligible for further analysis. Annexin V uptake before (U(baseline)) and early after (U(post)) the start of treatment was graded using a four-step scale: 0, absent; 1, weak; 2, moderate and 3, intense. The difference between these values (Delta U) was calculated and correlated to tumour response after therapy (Spearman rank correlation test).
Results: Weak to moderate U(baseline) was detected in 13/15 patients with a complete response and U(post) was markedly increased in all these cases (Delta U range 1-3). Partial response (n=7) was associated with weak to moderate U(baseline) and a moderately increased U(post) (Delta U range 1-2). In patients with stable disease (n=5), U(baseline) was predominantly weak, without considerable changes in uptake after the start of treatment (Delta U range 0-1). Finally, in case of progressive disease (n=2), either no tumour uptake or a decrease in U(post) was detected (Delta U=-1). A statistically significant correlation was found between changes in (99m)Tc-Hynic-rh-Annexin V tumour uptake and clinical response (correlation coefficient=0.62; P<0.001).
Conclusions: Complete or partial tumour response was associated with a marked increase of (99m)Tc Hynic-rh-Annexin V accumulation early during treatment compared to baseline values. In case of stable or progressive disease, pretreatment scans demonstrated predominantly low (99m)Tc Hynic-rh-Annexin V tumour uptake and no significant increase early after treatment. These results indicate that TAVS might be useful as a predictive test for treatment response.