Background: CD37 is an internalizing B-cell antigen expressed on Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells (CLL). The anti-CD37 monoclonal antibody HH1 was conjugated to the bifunctional chelator p-SCN-Bn-DOTA and labelled with the beta-particle emitting radionuclide 177Lu creating the radio-immunoconjugate (RIC) 177Lu-DOTA-HH1 (177Lu-HH1, trade name Betalutin). The present toxicity study was performed prior to initiation of clinical studies with 177Lu-HH1.
Methodology/principal findings: Nude mice with or without tumor xenografts were treated with 50 to 1000 MBq/kg 177Lu- HH1 and followed for clinical signs of toxicity up to ten months. Acute, life threatening bone marrow toxicity was observed in animals receiving 800 and 1000 MBq/kg 177Lu-HH1. Significant changes in serum concentrations of liver enzymes were evident for treatment with 1000 MBq/kg 177Lu-HH1. Lymphoid depletion, liver necrosis and atrophy, and interstitial cell hyperplasia of the ovaries were also observed for mice in this dose group.
Conclusions/significance: 177Lu-DOTA-HH1 was well tolerated at dosages about 10 times above those considered relevant for radioimmunotherapy in patients with B-cell derived malignancies.The toxicity profile was as expected for RICs. Our experimental results have paved the way for clinical evaluation of 177Lu-HH1 in NHL patients.