Antibodies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint lead to tumor regression and improved survival in several cancers. PD-L1 expression in tumors may be predictive of response to checkpoint blockade therapy. Because tissue samples might not always be available to guide therapy, we developed and evaluated a humanized antibody for non-invasive imaging of PD-L1 expression in tumors. Radiolabeled [111In]PD-L1-mAb and near-infrared dye conjugated NIR-PD-L1-mAb imaging agents were developed using the mouse and human cross-reactive PD-L1 antibody MPDL3280A. We tested specificity of [111In]PD-L1-mAb and NIR-PD-L1-mAb in cell lines and in tumors with varying levels of PD-L1 expression. We performed SPECT/CT imaging, biodistribution and blocking studies in NSG mice bearing tumors with constitutive PD-L1 expression (CHO-PDL1) and in controls (CHO). Results were confirmed in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) (MDAMB231 and SUM149) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (H2444 and H1155) xenografts with varying levels of PD-L1 expression. There was specific binding of [111In]PD-L1-mAb and NIR-PD-L1-mAb to tumor cells in vitro, correlating with PD-L1 expression levels. In mice bearing subcutaneous and orthotopic tumors, there was specific and persistent high accumulation of signal intensity in PD-L1 positive tumors (CHO-PDL1, MDAMB231, H2444) but not in controls. These results demonstrate that [111In]PD-L1-mAb and NIR-PD-L1-mAb can detect graded levels of PD-L1 expression in human tumor xenografts in vivo. As a humanized antibody, these findings suggest clinical translation of radiolabeled versions of MPDL3280A for imaging. Specificity of NIR-PD-L1-mAb indicates the potential for optical imaging of PD-L1 expression in tumors in relevant pre-clinical as well as clinical settings.
Keywords: MPDL3280A; immune escape; immunotherapy; molecular imaging; personalized medicine.