Radioactive labeling of defined HPMA-based polymeric structures using [18F]FETos for in vivo imaging by positron emission tomography

Biomacromolecules. 2009 Jul 13;10(7):1697-703. doi: 10.1021/bm8014736. Epub 2009 May 8.


During the last decades polymer-based nanomedicine has turned out to be a promising tool in modern pharmaceutics. The following article describes the synthesis of well-defined random and block copolymers by RAFT polymerization with potential medical application. The polymers have been labeled with the positron-emitting nuclide fluorine-18. The polymeric structures are based on the biocompatible N-(2-hydroxypropyl)-methacrylamide (HPMA). To achieve these structures, functional reactive ester polymers with a molecular weight within the range of 25,000-110,000 g/mol were aminolyzed by 2-hydroxypropylamine and tyramine (3%) to form (18)F-labelable HPMA-polymer precursors. The labeling procedure of the phenolic tyramine moieties via the secondary labeling synthon 2-[(18)F]fluoroethyl-1-tosylate ([(18)F]FETos) provided radiochemical fluoroalkylation yields of ∼80% for block copolymers and >50% for random polymer architectures within a synthesis time of 10 min and a reaction temperature of 120 °C. Total synthesis time including synthon synthesis, (18)F-labeling, and final purification via size exclusion chromatography took less than 90 min and yielded stable (18)F-labeled HPMA structures in isotonic buffer solution. Any decomposition could be detected within 2 h. To determine the in vivo fate of (18)F-labeled HPMA polymers, preliminary small animal positron emission tomography (PET) experiments were performed in healthy rats, demonstrating the renal clearance of low molecular weight polymers. Furthermore, low metabolism rates could be detected in urine as well as in the blood. Thus, we expect this new strategy for radioactive labeling of polymers as a promising approach for in vivo PET studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acrylamides / chemistry
  • Animals
  • Biotransformation
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes*
  • Isotope Labeling / methods*
  • Polymerization
  • Polymers / chemical synthesis
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Polymers / metabolism
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Rats


  • Acrylamides
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Polymers
  • N-(2-hydroxypropyl)methacrylamide