Somatostatin Receptor Antagonists for Imaging and Therapy

J Nucl Med. 2017 Sep;58(Suppl 2):61S-66S. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.116.186783.


Somatostatin receptor (sstr) scintigraphy for imaging and sstr analogs for treatment have been used for more than 20 y. An important improvement in recent years was the introduction of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy with radiolabeled sstr agonists, such as [90Y-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide or [177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotide (90Y- or 177Lu-DOTATOC, respectively) and [177Lu-DOTA0,Tyr3]octreotate (177Lu-DOTATATE). PET/CT with 68Ga-labeled sstr agonists, such as 68Ga-DOTATOC, 68Ga-DOTATATE, and [68Ga-DOTA,1-Nal3]octreotide (68Ga-DOTANOC), plays an important role in staging and restaging neuroendocrine tumors. Most importantly, sstr scintigraphy and sstr PET/CT can distinguish patients who will qualify for and benefit from peptide receptor radionuclide therapy. This characteristic of sstr targeting is important because it allows a personalized treatment approach (theranostic approach). Until recently, it was thought that internalization of the radiolabeled agonist was mandatory for sstr-mediated imaging and therapy. It was Ginj et al. who proposed in 2006 the paradigm shift that radiolabeled sstr antagonists may perform better than agonists despite the lack of internalization. Despite the rather limited number of head-to-head comparisons of sstr antagonists and agonists, the superiority of sstr antagonists was demonstrated in several cases. From a small library of sstr antagonists, the analog JR11 (Cpa-c[d-Cys-Aph(Hor)-d-Aph(Cbm)-Lys-Thr-Cys]-d-Tyr-NH2), an antagonist with selectivity for sstr subtype 2, showed the best overall characteristics for sstr subtype 2 targeting and was therefore selected for clinical translation. JR11 is under clinical development as a PET imaging agent when labeled with 68Ga (68Ga-NODAGA-JR11 or 68Ga-OPS202) and as a therapeutic agent when labeled with 177Lu (177Lu-DOTA-JR11 or 177Lu-OPS201). In this article, we discuss the development and current status of radiolabeled sstr antagonists. Evidence based on preclinical work, on quantitative in vivo autoradiography of human tumor slices, and on human data now supports a shift to sstr antagonists.

Keywords: neuroendocrine tumors; peptide receptor radionuclide therapy; somatostatin receptor PET/CT; somatostatin receptor antagonists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Drug Discovery / methods*
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Receptors, Somatostatin / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Somatostatin / metabolism


  • Receptors, Somatostatin