Noninvasive imaging technologies are increasingly used in preclinical drug research for the pharmacokinetic analysis of therapeutic compounds in living animals over time. The different preclinical imaging modalities available differ intrinsically in their detection principle and thus might exhibit limitations for a specific application. Here, we systematically investigated the performance of advanced fluorescence-mediated tomography (FMT)/CT in comparison to PET/MRI for quantitative analysis of the biodistribution of different antibody formats and dependence on the required imaging label in squamous cell carcinoma xenografts. Methods: Different formats of an antibody (monoclonal antibody and the antigen binding fragments F(ab')2 and Fab) targeting epidermal growth factor receptor were labeled with Alexa750 or 64Cu-NODAGA and injected intravenously into separate cohorts of nude mice bearing subcutaneous A-431 tumors. Two and 24 h after injection, the mice were measured by FMT/CT and PET/MRI. Probe accumulation was quantitatively assessed in organs and tumors. In vivo data were compared between modalities and correlated with ex vivo fluorescence, γ-counting, and electrochemiluminescence immunoassay. Results: Both imaging methods faithfully monitored the biodistribution and elimination routes of the compounds, and organ accumulation measured by FMT/CT and PET/MRI correlated significantly with ex vivo measurements. In addition, the accumulation in kidney, muscle, and tumor tissue correlated between FMT/CT and PET/MRI. However, the pharmacokinetics of the Alexa750-labeled antibody formats showed shorter blood half-times and higher liver uptake than the radiolabeled counterparts. Conclusion: FMT/CT imaging allows quantifying the biodistribution of antibodies in nude mice and provides an alternative to PET analysis in preclinical drug research. However, even for large molecules, such as monoclonal antibodies, Alexa750 labeling can change pharmacokinetics and trigger liver uptake.
Keywords: FMT/CT; PET/MRI; animal imaging; biodistribution; optical imaging.
© 2018 by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.