Synthesis and Biologic Evaluation of a Novel 18 F-Labeled Adnectin as a PET Radioligand for Imaging PD-L1 Expression

J Nucl Med. 2018 Mar;59(3):529-535. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.117.199596. Epub 2017 Oct 12.


The programmed death protein (PD-1) and its ligand (PD-L1) play critical roles in a checkpoint pathway cancer cells exploit to evade the immune system. A same-day PET imaging agent for measuring PD-L1 status in primary and metastatic lesions could be important for optimizing drug therapy. Herein, we have evaluated the tumor targeting of an anti-PD-L1 adnectin after 18F-fluorine labeling. Methods: An anti-PD-L1 adnectin was labeled with 18F in 2 steps. This synthesis featured fluorination of a novel prosthetic group, followed by a copper-free click conjugation to a modified adnectin to generate 18F-BMS-986192. 18F-BMS-986192 was evaluated in tumors using in vitro autoradiography and PET with mice bearing bilateral PD-L1-negative (PD-L1(-)) and PD-L1-positive (PD-L1(+)) subcutaneous tumors. 18F-BMS-986192 was evaluated for distribution, binding, and radiation dosimetry in a healthy cynomolgus monkey. Results:18F-BMS-986192 bound to human and cynomolgus PD-L1 with a dissociation constant of less than 35 pM, as measured by surface plasmon resonance. This adnectin was labeled with 18F to yield a PET radioligand for assessing PD-L1 expression in vivo. 18F-BMS-986192 bound to tumor tissues as a function of PD-L1 expression determined by immunohistochemistry. Radioligand binding was blocked in a dose-dependent manner. In vivo PET imaging clearly visualized PD-L1 expression in mice implanted with PD-L1(+), L2987 xenograft tumors. Two hours after dosing, a 3.5-fold-higher uptake (2.41 ± 0.29 vs. 0.82 ± 0.11 percentage injected dose per gram, P < 0.0001) was observed in L2987 than in control HT-29 (PD-L1(-)) tumors. Coadministration of 3 mg/kg ADX_5322_A02 anti-PD-L1 adnectin reduced tumor uptake at 2 h after injection by approximately 70%, whereas HT-29 uptake remained unchanged, demonstrating PD-L1-specific binding. Biodistribution in a nonhuman primate showed binding in the PD-L1-rich spleen, with rapid blood clearance through the kidneys and bladder. Binding in the PD-L1(+) spleen was reduced by coadministration of BMS-986192. Dosimetry estimates indicate that the kidney is the dose-limiting organ, with an estimated human absorbed dose of 2.20E-01 mSv/MBq. Conclusion:18F-BMS-986192 demonstrated the feasibility of noninvasively imaging the PD-L1 status of tumors by small-animal PET studies. Clinical studies with 18F-BMS-986192 are under way to measure PD-L1 expression in human tumors.

Keywords: 18F-BMS-986192; 18F-labeled Adnectin; PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor; PD-L1; PET.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B7-H1 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • HT29 Cells
  • Humans
  • Isotope Labeling
  • Ligands
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / chemical synthesis*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / metabolism
  • Radiopharmaceuticals / pharmacokinetics
  • Tissue Distribution


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • CD274 protein, human
  • Fluorine Radioisotopes
  • Ligands
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorine-18