Anti-MUC1-C Antibody-Conjugated Nanoparticles Potentiate the Efficacy of Fractionated Radiation Therapy

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2020 Dec 1;108(5):1380-1389. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2020.06.069. Epub 2020 Jul 4.


Purpose: Heavy-metal chelators and inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) have been examined as potential radioenhancers to increase the efficacy of external beam radiation therapy for various cancers. Most of these agents have, unfortunately, displayed relatively poor pharmacokinetic properties, which limit the percentage of injected dose (%ID/g) that localizes to tumors and which shorten the window for effective radiation enhancement due to rapid tumor washout.

Methods and materials: To address these challenges, we sought to conjugate gadolinium-based ultrasmall (<5 nm) NPs to an antibody directed against the oncogenic MUC1-C subunit that is overexpressed on the surface of many different human cancer types. The binding of the anti-MUC1-C antibody 3D1 to MUC1-C on the surface of a cancer cell is associated with its internalization and, thereby, to effective intracellular delivery of the antibody-associated payload, promoting its effective tumor retention. As such, we examined whether systemically administered anti-MUC1-C antibody-conjugated, gadolinium-based NPs (anti-MUC1-C/NPs) could accumulate within cell-line xenograft models of MUC1-C-expressing (H460) lung and (E0771) breast cancers to improve the efficacy of radiation therapy (XRT).

Results: The %ID/g of anti-MUC1-C/NPs that accumulated within tumors was found to be similar to that of their unconjugated counterparts (6.6 ± 1.4 vs 5.9 ± 1.7 %ID/g, respectively). Importantly, the anti-MUC1-C/NPs demonstrated prolonged retention in in vivo tumor microenvironments; as a result, the radiation boost was maintained during the course of fractionated therapy (3 × 5.2 Gy). We found that by administering anti-MUC1-C/NPs with XRT, it was possible to significantly augment tumor growth inhibition and to prolong the animals' overall survival (46.2 ± 3.1 days) compared with the administration of control NPs with XRT (31.1 ± 2.4 days) or with XRT alone (27.3 ± 1.6 days; P < .01, log-rank).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that anti-MUC1-C/NPs could be used to enhance the effectiveness of radiation therapy and potentially to improve clinical outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / metabolism
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Damage
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation
  • Female
  • Gadolinium / metabolism
  • Gadolinium / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immunoconjugates / chemistry
  • Immunoconjugates / metabolism
  • Immunoconjugates / therapeutic use*
  • Immunologic Factors / chemistry
  • Immunologic Factors / metabolism
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Lung Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • Mucin-1 / immunology*
  • Mucin-1 / metabolism
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism
  • Nanoparticles / therapeutic use*
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoconjugates
  • Immunologic Factors
  • Mucin-1
  • Gadolinium