High-grade gliomas are aggressive cancers that often become rapidly fatal. Immunotherapy using CD8+ cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs), engineered to express both herpes simplex virus type 1 thymidine kinase (HSV1-TK) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) zetakine chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), is a treatment strategy with considerable potential. To optimize this and related immunotherapies, it would be helpful to monitor CTL viability and trafficking to glioma cells. We show that noninvasive positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with 9-[4-[18F]fluoro-3-(hydroxymethyl)butyl]guanine ([18F]FHBG) can track HSV1-tk reporter gene expression present in CAR-engineered CTLs. [18F]FHBG imaging was safe and enabled the longitudinal imaging of T cells stably transfected with a PET reporter gene in patients. Further optimization of this imaging approach for monitoring in vivo cell trafficking should greatly benefit various cell-based therapies for cancer.
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