Relationship between neutrophil-binding affinity and suitability for infection imaging: comparison of (99m)Tc-labeled NAP-2 (CXCL-7) and 3 C-terminally truncated isoforms

H. Rennen, C. Frielink, E. Brandt, S. Zaat, O. Boerman, W. Oyen and F. Corstens

Department of Nuclear Medicine, University Medical Center Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Jul, 2004


The CXC chemokines are a family of closely related chemoattractant cytokines that bind to, attract, and activate neutrophils to variable degrees. In this study, the relationship between neutrophil-binding affinity and suitability for infection imaging was investigated in a selected group of CXC chemokines. Neutrophil-activating peptide-2 (NAP-2, 70 residues; also called CXCL7) binds with high affinity to the CXCR2 receptor on neutrophils. Recently, C-terminally truncated NAP-2-variants have been described that have enhanced neutrophil-binding affinity and neutrophil-stimulating capacity. Here, NAP-2 and its C-terminal shortened variants NAP-2(1-68), NAP-2(1-66), and NAP-2(1-63) were labeled with (99m)Tc via the hydrazinonicotinamide (HYNIC) chelator and their potential for imaging of infection was investigated in a rabbit model of infection. The CXC chemokine interleukin-8 (IL-8) was used for comparison. In addition, a series of (99m)Tc-labeled CXC chemokines were screened for their potential to image infection, including CTAP-III, GCP-2, ENA-78, PF-4, and IP-10.The receptor-binding affinity of HYNIC-conjugated NAP-2 and its analogs was compared in competitive binding assays on Jurkat cells transfected with the CXCR2 receptor gene. Biodistribution of labeled NAP-2 (analogs) and other CXC chemokines in rabbits with intramuscular Escherichia coli infections was determined both by gamma-camera imaging and by counting dissected tissues at 6 h after injection.The CXCR2-binding affinity of the HYNIC-conjugated NAP-2 analogs relative to NAP-2 was as follows: NAP-2(1-68), 2.5-fold; NAP-2(1-66), 10-fold; and NAP-2(1-63), 3-fold. In the rabbit model, uptake in the abscess (in percentage injected dose per gram +/- SEM) was 0.084 +/- 0.015 for NAP-2, 0.098 +/- 0.010 for NAP-2(1-68), 0.189 +/- 0.044 for NAP-2(1-66), and 0.114 +/- 0.017 for NAP-2(1-63) at 6 h after injection. In comparison, higher uptake in the abscess was found for labeled IL-8, a modest uptake was found for GCP-2 and ENA-78, and a low uptake was found for CTAP-III, PF-4, and IP-10.This study showed a clear relationship between affinity to receptors on neutrophils and suitability for infection imaging. Of the NAP-2 variants, NAP-2(1-66) combined highest affinity to CXCR2 with the best characteristics for imaging. IL-8 binds to both CXCR1 and CXCR2 with high affinity and showed a superior imaging quality. The other CXC chemokines tested bind to neutrophils with lower affinity and were shown to be less suitable for infection imaging in this study.