Synthesis and Preclinical Evaluation of a 68Ga-Labeled Adnectin, 68Ga-BMS-986192, as a PET Agent for Imaging PD-L1 Expression

J Nucl Med. 2021 Sep 1;62(9):1228-1234. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.120.258384. Epub 2021 Jan 30.


Blocking the interaction of the immune checkpoint molecule programmed cell death protein-1 and its ligand, PD-L1, using specific antibodies has been a major breakthrough for immune oncology. Whole-body PD-L1 expression PET imaging may potentially allow for a better prediction of response to programmed cell death protein-1-targeted therapies. Imaging of PD-L1 expression is feasible by PET with the adnectin protein 18F-BMS-986192. However, radiofluorination of proteins such as BMS-986192 remains complex and labeling yields are low. The goal of this study was therefore the development and preclinical evaluation of a 68Ga-labeled adnectin protein (68Ga-BMS-986192) to facilitate clinical trials. Methods:68Ga labeling of DOTA-conjugated adnectin (BXA-206362) was performed in NaOAc-buffer at pH 5.5 (50°C, 15 min). In vitro stability in human serum at 37°C was analyzed using radio-thin layer chromatography and radio-high-performance liquid chromatography. PD-L1 binding assays were performed using the transduced PD-L1-expressing lymphoma cell line U-698-M and wild-type U-698-M cells as a negative control. Immunohistochemical staining studies, biodistribution studies, and small-animal PET studies of 68Ga-BMS-986192 were performed using PD-L1-positive and PD-L1-negative U-698-M-bearing NSG mice. Results:68Ga-BMS-986192 was obtained with quantitative radiochemical yields of more than 97% and with high radiochemical purity. In vitro stability in human serum was at least 95% after 4 h of incubation. High and specific binding of 68Ga-BMS-986192 to human PD-L1-expressing cancer cells was confirmed, which closely correlates with the respective PD-L1 expression level determined by flow cytometry and immunohistochemistry staining. In vivo, 68Ga-BMS-986192 uptake was high at 1 h after injection in PD-L1-positive tumors (9.0 ± 2.1 percentage injected dose [%ID]/g) and kidneys (56.9 ± 9.2 %ID/g), with negligible uptake in other tissues. PD-L1-negative tumors demonstrated only background uptake of radioactivity (0.6 ± 0.1 %ID/g). Coinjection of an excess of unlabeled adnectin reduced tumor uptake of PD-L1 by more than 80%. Conclusion:68Ga-BMS-986192 enables easy radiosynthesis and shows excellent in vitro and in vivo PD-L1-targeting characteristics. The high tumor uptake combined with low background accumulation at early imaging time points demonstrates the feasibility of 68Ga-BMS-986192 for imaging of PD-L1 expression in tumors and is encouraging for further clinical applications of PD-L1 ligands.

Keywords: 18F-BMS-986192; 68Ga-BMS-986192; 68Ga-adnectin; PD-1/PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors; PD-L1 PET imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B7-H1 Antigen*
  • Humans
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Tissue Distribution


  • B7-H1 Antigen
  • BMS-986192
  • CD274 protein, human
  • Peptide Fragments