Preclinical Evaluation of 68Ga- and 177Lu-Labeled Integrin αvβ6-Targeting Radiotheranostic Peptides

J Nucl Med. 2023 Apr;64(4):639-644. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.122.264749. Epub 2022 Oct 7.


The integrin αvβ6, an epithelium-specific cell surface receptor, is overexpressed on numerous malignancies, including the highly lethal pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas. Here, we developed and tested a novel αvβ6-targeting peptide, DOTA-5G (1) radiolabeled with 68Ga, for PET/CT imaging and 177Lu for treatment. With the goal to develop a radiotheranostic, further modifications were made for increased circulation time, renal recycling, and tumor uptake, yielding DOTA-albumin-binding moiety-5G (2). Methods: Peptides 1 and 2 were synthesized on solid phase, and their affinity for αvβ6 was assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The peptides were radiolabeled with 68Ga and 177Lu. In vitro cell binding, internalization, and efflux of 68Ga-1 and 177Lu-2 were evaluated in αvβ6-positive BxPC-3 human pancreatic cancer cells. PET/CT imaging of 68Ga-1 and 68Ga-2 was performed on female nu/nu mice bearing subcutaneous BxPC-3 tumors. Biodistribution was performed for 68Ga-1 (1 and 2 h after injection), 68Ga-2 (2 and 4 h after injection), and 177Lu-1 and 177Lu-2 (1, 24, 48, and 72 h after injection). The 177Lu-2 biodistribution data were extrapolated for human dosimetry data estimates using OLINDA/EXM 1.1. Therapeutic efficacy of 177Lu-2 was evaluated in mice bearing BxPC-3 tumors. Results: Peptides 1 and 2 demonstrated high affinity (<55 nM) for αvβ6 by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. 68Ga-1, 68Ga-2, 177Lu-1, and 177Lu-2 were synthesized in high radiochemical purity. Rapid in vitro binding and internalization of 68Ga-1 and 177Lu-2 were observed in BxPC-3 cells. PET/CT imaging and biodistribution studies demonstrated uptake in BxPC-3 tumors. Introduction of the albumin-binding moiety in 177Lu-2 resulted in a 5-fold increase in tumor uptake and retention over time. Based on the extended dosimetry data, the dose-limiting organ for 177Lu-2 is the kidney. Treatment with 177Lu-2 prolonged median survival by 1.5- to 2-fold versus controls. Conclusion: 68Ga-1 and 177Lu-2 demonstrated high affinity for the integrin αvβ6 both in vitro and in vivo, were rapidly internalized into BxPC-3 cells, and were stable in mouse and human serum. Both radiotracers showed favorable pharmacokinetics in preclinical studies, with predominantly renal excretion and good tumor-to-normal-tissue ratios. Favorable human dosimetry data suggest the potential of 177Lu-2 as a treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma.

Keywords: 177Lu; 68Ga; albumin-binding moiety; integrin αvβ6; theranostics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Albumins
  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Gallium Radioisotopes* / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms
  • Peptides
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography*
  • Tissue Distribution


  • integrin alphavbeta6
  • Gallium Radioisotopes
  • Peptides
  • Albumins