Change of Apoptosis and Glucose Metabolism in Lung Cancer Xenografts during Cytotoxic and Anti-Angiogenic Therapy Assessed by Annexin V Based Optical Imaging and 18F-FDG-PET/CT

Contrast Media Mol Imaging. 2021 Apr 10;2021:6676337. doi: 10.1155/2021/6676337. eCollection 2021.


Methods: For apoptosis imaging, the near-infrared probe Annexin Vivo750 was used in combination with fluorescence molecular tomography and microcomputed tomography (FMT/µCT). Glucose metabolism was assessed using 18F-FDG-PET/CT. Five groups of nude mice bearing lung cancer xenografts (A549) were investigated: (i) untreated controls and two groups after (ii) cytotoxic (carboplatin) or (iii) anti-angiogenic (sunitinib) treatment for four and nine days, respectively. Imaging data were validated by immunohistochemistry.

Results: In response to carboplatin treatment, an inverse relation was found between the change in glucose metabolism and apoptosis in A549 tumors. Annexin Vivo showed a continually increasing tumor accumulation, while the tumor-to-muscle ratio of 18F-FDG continuously decreased during therapy. Immunohistochemistry revealed a significantly higher tumor apoptosis (p=0.007) and a minor but not significant reduction in vessel density only at day 9 of carboplatin therapy. Interestingly, during anti-angiogenic treatment there was an early drop in the tumor-to-muscle ratio between days 0 and 4, followed by a subsequent minor decrease (18F-FDG tumor-to-muscle-ratio: 1.9 ± 0.4; day 4: 1.1 ± 0.2; day 9: 1.0 ± 0.2; p=0.021 and p=0.001, respectively). The accumulation of Annexin Vivo continuously increased over time (Annexin Vivo: untreated: 53.7 ± 36.4 nM; day 4: 87.2 ± 53.4 nM; day 9: 115.1 ± 103.7 nM) but failed to display the very prominent early induction of tumor apoptosis that was found by histology already at day 4 (TUNEL: p=0.0036) together with a decline in vessel density (CD31: p=0.004), followed by no significant changes thereafter.

Conclusion: Both molecular imaging approaches enable visualizing the effects of cytotoxic and anti-angiogenic therapy in A549 tumors. However, the early and strong tumor apoptosis induced by the anti-angiogenic agent sunitinib was more sensitively and reliably captured by monitoring of the glucose metabolism as compared to Annexin V-based apoptosis imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Annexin A5 / chemistry
  • Annexin A5 / pharmacology
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / pharmacology
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Mice
  • Optical Imaging*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography*


  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Annexin A5
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Glucose