Micro–Positron Emission Tomography/Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography Imaging of Orthotopic Pancreatic Tumor–Bearing Mice Using the αvβ3 Integrin Tracer 64Cu-Labeled Cyclam-RAFT-c(-RGDfK-)4

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The purpose of this study was to develop a clinically relevant orthotopic xenotransplantation model of pancreatic cancer and to perform a preclinical evaluation of a new positron emission tomography (PET) imaging probe, 64Cu-labeled cyclam-RAFT-c(-RGDfK-)4 peptide ( 64Cu-RAFT-RGD), using this model. Varying degrees of αvβ3 integrin expression in several human pancreatic cancer cell lines were examined by flow cytometry and Western blotting. The cell line BxPC-3, which is stably transfected with a red fluorescence protein (RFP), was used for surgical orthotopic implantation. Orthotopic xenograft was established in the pancreas of recipient nude mice. An in vivo probe biodistribution and receptor blocking study, preclinical PET imaging coregistered with contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) comparing 64Cu-RAFT-RGD and 18F-fluoro-2-deoxy-d-glucose (18F-FDG) accumulation in tumor, postimaging autoradiography, and histologic and immunohistochemical examinations were done. Biodistribution evaluation with a blocking study confirmed that efficient binding of probe to tumor is highly αvβ3 integrin specific. 64Cu-RAFT-RGD PET combined with CECT provided for precise and easy detection of cancer lesions. Autoradiography, histologic, and immunohistochemical examinations confirmed the accumulation of 64Cu-RAFT-RGD in tumor versus nontumor tissues. In comparative PET studies, 64Cu-RAFT-RGD accumulation provided better tumor contrast to background than 18F-FDG. Our results suggest that 64Cu-RAFT-RGD PET imaging is potentially applicable for the diagnosis of αvβ3 integrin–expressing pancreatic tumors.

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