Non-invasive imaging using radiolabels is a common technique used to study the biodistribution of biologics. Due to the limited shelf-life of radiolabels and the requirements of specialized labs, non-invasive optical imaging is an attractive alternative for preclinical studies. Previously, we demonstrated the utility of fluorescence molecular tomography (FMT) an optical imaging modality in evaluating the biodistribution of antibody-drug conjugates. As FMT is a relatively new technology, few fluorophores have been validated for in vivo imaging. The goal of this study was to characterize and determine the utility of near-infrared (NIR) fluoropho res for biodistribution studies using interleukin-13 receptor subunit alpha-2 antibody (IL13Ra2-Ab). Eight fluorophores (ex/em: 630/800 nm) with an N-hydroxysuccinimide (NHS) linker were evaluated for Ab conjugation. The resulting antibody-fluorophore (Ab-F) conjugates were evaluated in vitro for degree of conjugation, stability and target-binding, followed by in vivo/ex vivo FMT imaging to determine biodistribution in a xenograft model. The Ab-F conjugates (except Ab-DyLight800) showed good in vitro stability and antigen binding. All Ab-F conjugates (except for Ab-BOD630) resulted in a quantifiable signal in vivo and had similar biodistribution profiles, with peak tumor accumulation between 6 and 24 h post-injection. In vivo/ex vivo FMT imaging showed 17-34% ID/g Ab uptake by the tumor at 96 h. Overall, this is the first study to characterize the biodistribution of an Ab using eight NIR fluorophores. Our results show that 3-dimensional optical imaging is a valuable technology to understand biodistribution and targeting, but a careful selection of the fluorophore for each Ab is warranted.
Gupta, P., Wentland, J.-A., Leal, M., Ma, D., Roach, R., Esparza, A., … Giddabasappa, A. (2017). Assessment of near-infrared fluorophores to study the biodistribution and tumor targeting of an IL13 receptor α2 antibody by fluorescence molecular tomography. Oncotarget, 8(34). https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19569