Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging for the Prediction of Monoclonal Antibody Tumor Disposition

Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Jan 8;23(2):679. doi: 10.3390/ijms23020679.


The prediction of monoclonal antibody (mAb) disposition within solid tumors for individual patients is difficult due to inter-patient variability in tumor physiology. Improved a priori prediction of mAb pharmacokinetics in tumors may facilitate the development of patient-specific dosing protocols and facilitate improved selection of patients for treatment with anti-cancer mAb. Here, we report the use of dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI), with tumor penetration of the contrast agent gadobutrol used as a surrogate, to improve physiologically based pharmacokinetic model (PBPK) predictions of cetuximab pharmacokinetics in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) positive xenografts. In the initial investigations, mice bearing Panc-1, NCI-N87, and LS174T xenografts underwent DCE-MRI imaging with the contrast agent gadobutrol, followed by intravenous dosing of an 125Iodine-labeled, non-binding mAb (8C2). Tumor concentrations of 8C2 were determined following the euthanasia of mice (3 h-6 days after 8C2 dosing). Potential predictor relationships between DCE-MRI kinetic parameters and 8C2 PBPK parameters were evaluated through covariate modeling. The addition of the DCE-MRI parameter Ktrans alone or Ktrans in combination with the DCE-MRI parameter Vp on the PBPK parameters for tumor blood flow (QTU) and tumor vasculature permeability (σTUV) led to the most significant improvement in the characterization of 8C2 pharmacokinetics in individual tumors. To test the utility of the DCE-MRI covariates on a priori prediction of the disposition of mAb with high-affinity tumor binding, a second group of tumor-bearing mice underwent DCE-MRI imaging with gadobutrol, followed by the administration of 125Iodine-labeled cetuximab (a high-affinity anti-EGFR mAb). The MRI-PBPK covariate relationships, which were established with the untargeted antibody 8C2, were implemented into the PBPK model with considerations for EGFR expression and cetuximab-EGFR interaction to predict the disposition of cetuximab in individual tumors (a priori). The incorporation of the Ktrans MRI parameter as a covariate on the PBPK parameters QTU and σTUV decreased the PBPK model prediction error for cetuximab tumor pharmacokinetics from 223.71 to 65.02%. DCE-MRI may be a useful clinical tool in improving the prediction of antibody pharmacokinetics in solid tumors. Further studies are warranted to evaluate the utility of the DCE-MRI approach to additional mAbs and additional drug modalities.

Keywords: dynamic contrast enhanced-magnetic resonance imaging; monoclonal antibody; physiologically based pharmacokinetic modeling; tumor pharmacokinetics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology*
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacokinetics
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cetuximab / immunology
  • Cetuximab / pharmacokinetics
  • Contrast Media / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / blood
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Contrast Media
  • Cetuximab