Purpose: Though various targets have been proposed and evaluated, no agent has yet been investigated in a clinical setting for head and neck cancer. The present study aimed to compare two fluorescently labeled anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies for detection of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).
Procedures: Antigen specificities and in vitro imaging of the fluorescently labeled anti-EGFR antibodies were performed. Next, immunodeficient mice (n = 22) bearing HNSCC (OSC-19 and SCC-1) tongue tumors received systemic injections of cetuximab-IRDye800CW, panitumumab-IRDye800CW, or IgG-IRDye800CW (a nonspecific control). Tumors were imaged and resected using two near-infrared imaging systems, SPY and Pearl. Fluorescent lymph nodes were also identified, and all resected tissues were sent for pathology.
Results: Panitumumab-IRDye800CW and cetuximab-IRDye800CW had specific and high affinity binding for EGFR (K D = 0.12 and 0.31 nM, respectively). Panitumumab-IRDye800CW demonstrated a 2-fold increase in fluorescence intensity compared to cetuximab-IRDye800CW in vitro. In vivo, both fluorescently labeled antibodies produced higher tumor-to-background ratios compared to IgG-IRDye800CW. However, there was no significant difference between the two in either cell line or imaging modality (OSC-19: p = 0.08 SPY, p = 0.48 Pearl; SCC-1: p = 0.77 SPY, p = 0.59 Pearl; paired t tests).
Conclusions: There was no significant difference between the two fluorescently labeled anti-EGFR monoclonal antibodies in murine models of HNSCC. Both cetuximab and panitumumab can be considered suitable targeting agents for fluorescent intraoperative detection of HNSCC.