Introduction: Development of non-invasive molecular imaging techniques that are based on cellular changes in inflammation has been of active interest for arthritis diagnosis. This technology will allow real-time detection of tissue damage and facilitate earlier treatment of the disease, thus representing an improvement over X-rays, which detect bone damage at the advanced stage. Tracing apoptosis, an event occurring in inflammation, has been a strategy used. PSVue 794 is a low-molecular-weight, near-infrared (NIR)-emitting complex of bis(zinc<sup>2+</sup>-dipicolylamine) (Zn-DPA) that binds to phosphatidylserine (PS), a plasma membrane anionic phospholipid that becomes flipped externally upon cell death by apoptosis. In this study, we evaluated the capacity of PSVue 794 to act as an in vivo probe for non-invasive molecular imaging assessment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) via metabolic function in murine collagen-induced arthritis, a widely adopted animal model for RA. Methods: Male DBA/1 strain mice were treated twice with chicken collagen type II in Freund's adjuvant. Their arthritis development was determined by measuring footpad thickness and confirmed with X-ray analysis and histology. In vivo imaging was performed with the NIR dye and the LI-COR Odyssey Image System. The level of emission was compared among mice with different disease severity, non-arthritic mice and arthritic mice injected with a control dye without the Zn-DPA targeting moiety. Results: Fluorescent emission correlated reliably with the degree of footpad swelling and the manifestation of arthritis. Ex vivo examination showed emission was from the joint. Specificity of binding was confirmed by the lack of emission when arthritic mice were given the control dye. Furthermore, the PS-binding protein annexin V displaced the NIR dye from binding, and the difference in emission was numerically measurable on a scale. Conclusions: This report introduces an economical alternative method for assessing arthritis non-invasively in murine models. Inflammation in feet and ankles can be measured longitudinally using the PSVue 794 probe for cell death and with a commonly available multipurpose imager. This technique provides metabolic and functional information that anatomical measurement of footpad swelling or visual determination of arthritic index cannot. It also may decrease the number of animals required per experiment because tissue damage will not necessarily require evaluation by harvesting joints for histology.
Chan, M. M., Gray, B. D., Pak, K. Y., & Fong, D. (2015). Non-invasive in vivo imaging of arthritis in a collagen-induced murine model with phosphatidylserine-binding near-infrared (NIR) dye. Arthritis Research and Therapy, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13075-015-0565-x