A comparison of 111In- or 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab fragments for imaging subcutaneous HER2-positive tumor xenografts in athymic mice using microSPECT/CT or microPET/CT

EJNMMI Res. 2011 Aug 17;1(1):15. doi: 10.1186/2191-219X-1-15.


Background: Our objective was to compare 111In- or 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab fragments for imaging small or large s.c. tumor xenografts in athymic mice that display a wide range of human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 (HER2) expression using microSPECT/CT or microPET/CT.

Methods: Trastuzumab Fab were labeled with 111In or 64Cu by conjugation to 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane N, N', N'', N'''-tetraacetic acid (DOTA). The purity of 111In- and 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab was measured by SDS-PAGE and HPLC. HER2 binding affinity was determined in saturation radioligand binding assays using SKBR-3 cells (1.3 × 106 HER2/cell). MicroSPECT/CT and microPET/CT were performed in athymic mice bearing s.c. BT-20 and MDA-MB-231 xenografts with low (0.5 to 1.6 × 105 receptors/cell), MDA-MB-361 tumors with intermediate (5.1 × 105 receptors/cell) or SKOV-3 xenografts with high HER2 expression (1.2 × 106 receptors/cell) at 24 h p.i. of 70 MBq (10 μg) of 111In-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab or 22 MBq (10 μg) of 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab or irrelevant 111In- or 64Cu-DOTA-rituximab Fab. Tumor and normal tissue uptake were quantified in biodistribution studies.

Results: 111In- and 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab were > 98% radiochemically pure and bound HER2 with high affinity (Kd = 20.4 ± 2.5 nM and 40.8 ± 3.5 nM, respectively). MDA-MB-361 and SKOV-3 tumors were most clearly imaged using 111In- and 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab. Significantly higher tumor/blood (T/B) ratios were found for 111In-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab than 111In-DOTA-rituximab Fab for BT-20, MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-361 xenografts, and there was a direct association between T/B ratios and HER2 expression. In contrast, tumor uptake of 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab was significantly higher than 64Cu-DOTA-rituximab Fab in MDA-MB-361 tumors but no direct association with HER2 expression was found. Both 111In- and 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab imaged small (5 to 10 mm) or larger (10 to 15 mm) MDA-MB-361 tumors. Higher blood, liver, and spleen radioactivity were observed for 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab than 111In-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab.

Conclusions: We conclude that 111In-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab was more specific than 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab for imaging HER2-positive tumors, especially those with low receptor density. This was due to higher levels of circulating radioactivity for 64Cu-DOTA-trastuzumab Fab which disrupted the relationship between HER2 density and T/B ratios. Use of alternative chelators that more stably bind 64Cu may improve the association between T/B ratios and HER2 density for 64Cu-labeled trastuzumab Fab.