Molecular Targeting of Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma With Fluorescently Labeled Ratiometric Activatable Cell Penetrating Peptides in a Transgenic Murine Model

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Background and Objectives:

Molecularly targeted fluorescent molecules may help detect tumors that are unseen by traditional white-light surgical techniques. We sought to evaluate a fluorescent ratiometric activatable cell penetrating peptide (RACPP) for tumor detection in a transgenic model of PTC.


Thirteen BRAFV600E mice with PTC were studied—seven injected intravenously with RACPP, four controls with saline. Total thyroidectomy was performed with microscopic white-light visualization. Fluorescent imaging of post-thyroidectomy fields was performed, and tissue with increased signal was removed and evaluated for PTC. Final samples were analyzed by a pathologist blinded to conditions. Vocal cord function was evaluated postoperatively with video laryngoscopy.


The average in situ ratiometric (Cy5/Cy7) thyroid tumor-to-background contrast ratio was 2.27 +/− 0.91. Fluorescence-guided clean-up following thyroidectomy identified additional tumor in 2 of 7 RACPP animals (smallest dimension 1.2 mm), and decreased the number of animals with residual tumor from 4 to 3. All retained tumor foci on final pathology were smaller than 0.76 mm. Intact vocal abduction was present in all of the RACPP animals.


RACPPs successfully targeted PTC in a transgenic thyroidectomy model, and allowed for residual tumor detection that reduced positive margins beyond what was possible with white-light surgery alone. J. Surg. Oncol. 2016;113:138–143. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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