Imaging integrin alpha-v-beta-3 expression in tumors with an 18F-labeled dimeric RGD peptide

I. Dijkgraaf, S. Terry, W. McBride, D. Goldenberg, P. Laverman, G. Franssen, W. Oyen and O. Boerman

Department of Biochemistry, Cardiovascular Research Institute, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Integrin αv β3 receptors are expressed on activated endothelial cells during neovascularization to maintain tumor growth. Many radiolabeled probes utilize the tight and specific association between the arginine-glycine-aspartatic acid (RGD) peptide and integrin αv β3 , but one main obstacle for any clinical application of these probes is the laborious multistep radiosynthesis of (18)F. In this study, the dimeric RGD peptide, E-[c(RGDfK)]2, was conjugated with NODAGA and radiolabeled with (18)F in a simple one-pot process with a radiolabeling yield of 20\%, the whole process lasting only 45 min. NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 labeled with (18)F at a specific activity of 1.8 MBq nmol(-1) and a radiochemical purity of 100\% could be achieved. The logP value of (18)F-labeled NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 was -4.26 ± 0.02. In biodistribution studies, (18)F-NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 cleared rapidly from the blood with 0.03 ± 0.01 percentage injected dose per gram (\%ID g(-1)) in the blood at 2 h p.i., mainly via the kidneys, and showed good in vivo stability. Tumor uptake of (18)F-NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 (3.44 ± 0.20 \%ID g(-1), 2 h p.i.) was significantly lower than that of reference compounds (68) Ga-labeled NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 (6.26 ± 0.76 \%ID g(-1) ; p <0.001) and (111) In-labeled NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 (4.99 ± 0.64 \%ID g(-1) ; p < 0.01). Co-injection of an excess of unlabeled NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 along with (18)F-NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 resulted in significantly reduced radioactivity concentrations in the tumor (0.85 ± 0.13 \%ID g(-1)). The αv β3 integrin-expressing SK-RC-52 tumor could be successfully visualized by microPET with (18)F-labeled NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 . In conclusion, NODAGA-E-[c(RGDfK)]2 could be labeled rapidly with (18)F using a direct aqueous, one-pot method and it accumulated specifically in αv β3 integrin-expressing SK-RC-52 tumors, allowing for visualization by microPET.