Photoimmunotherapy lowers recurrence after pancreatic cancer surgery in orthotopic nude mouse models

J Surg Res. 2015 Jul;197(1):5-11. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2015.02.037. Epub 2015 Feb 19.


Background: Photoimmunotherapy (PIT) is based on the use of a monoclonal antibody specific to cancer epitopes conjugated to a photosensitizer near-infrared phthalocyanine dye (IR700). In this study, PIT with IR700 conjugated to anti-carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) was used as an adjunct to surgery in orthotopically-implanted human pancreatic cancer in a nude mouse model to eliminate microscopic disease in the post-surgical tumor bed and prevent local as well as metastatic recurrence.

Materials and methods: Athymic nude mice were orthotopically implanted with the human pancreatic cancer cell line BxPC3 expressing green fluorescent protein. After tumor engraftment, the mice were divided into two groups as follows: bright light surgery (BLS) + anti-CEA-IR700 + 690 nm laser (PIT); and BLS only. Anti-CEA-IR700 (100 μg) was administered to the treatment group via tail-vein injection 24 h before therapy. Tumors were resected, and the surgical bed was treated with intraoperative phototherapy at an intensity of 150 mW/cm(2) for 30 min. Mice were imaged noninvasively for 8 wk using an OV-100 small animal fluorescence imager.

Results: BLS + PIT reduced local recurrence to 1/7 mice from 7/7 mice with BLS-only (P = 0.001) and metastatic recurrence to 2/7 mice compared with 6/7 mice with BLS-only (P = 0.03). Local tumor growth continued at a rapid rate after BLS-only compared with BLS + PIT where almost no local growth occurred. There was a significant difference in tumor size between mice in the BLS + PIT (2.14 mm(2), 95% confidence interval [CI] [-2.06 to 6.34] and BLS-only groups (115.2 mm(2), 95% CI [88.8-141.6]) at 6 wk after surgery (P < 0.001). There was also a significant difference in tumor weight between the BLS + PIT group (6.65 mg, 95% CI [-6.35 to 19.65] and BLS-only group (1100 mg, 95% CI [794-1406] at 8 wk after surgery (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: PIT holds promise in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and may serve as a useful adjunct to surgery in the eradication of microscopic residual disease that can lead to both local and metastatic recurrence. Further studies are warranted to investigate the potential toxicities of PIT, especially with regard to anastomoses, such as those involved in pancreaticoduodenectomy.

Keywords: CEA; Orthotopic mouse models; Pancreatic cancer; Photoimmunotherapy; Surgery.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen / immunology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Humans
  • Indoles / therapeutic use*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / prevention & control*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Pancreatectomy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Photochemotherapy / methods*
  • Photosensitizing Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Carcinoembryonic Antigen
  • Indoles
  • Photosensitizing Agents
  • phthalocyanine