In vivo bioluminescence imaging of granzyme B activity in tumor response to cancer immunotherapy

Cell Chem Biol. 2022 Oct 20;29(10):1556-1567.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2022.08.006. Epub 2022 Sep 13.


Cancer immunotherapy has revolutionized the treatment of cancer, but only a small subset of patients benefits from this new treatment regime. Imaging tools are useful for early detection of tumor response to immunotherapy and probing the dynamic and complex immune system. Here, we report a bioluminescence probe (GBLI-2) for non-invasive, real-time, longitudinal imaging of granzyme B activity in tumors receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors. GBLI-2 is made of the mouse granzyme B tetrapeptide IEFD substrate conjugated to D-luciferin through a self-immolative group. GBLI-2 was evaluated for imaging the dynamics of the granzyme B activity and predicting therapeutic efficacy in a syngeneic mouse model of CT26 murine colorectal carcinoma. The GBLI-2 signal correlated with the change in the population of PD-1- and granzyme B-expressing CD8+ T cells in tumors.

Keywords: bioluminescence imaging; cancer immunotherapy; checkpoint inhibitor blockade; cytotoxic T lymphocytes; granzyme B.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Granzymes
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms*
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor*


  • Granzymes
  • Programmed Cell Death 1 Receptor
  • Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors