The abundance of CD4 molecules on inflammatory cells in the synovial membrane renders anti-CD4 monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) or their fragments very promising for specific imaging of arthritic joints. METHODS: Joint uptake and body distribution of a 99mTc-labeled Fab', derived from the anti-rat CD4 MAb W3/25 (IgG1), were investigated following intravenous injection in normal and adjuvant arthritic rats. An isotype-matched Fab' (anti-human nonspecific crossreacting antigen-90) was used as control. RESULTS: A 14-hr sequential pinhole scan of the ankle joints revealed that both the anti-CD4 and the control Fab' accumulated to a higher degree in arthritic than in normal ankle joints; however, accumulation of the anti-CD4 Fab' in arthritic joints exceeded that of the control Fab' (approximate to 1.6 fold). Preferential joint accumulation of anti-CD4 Fab' was confirmed by whole-body scans at 14 hr and by direct well counter measurements of tissue samples at 16 hr following injection. Unlike the control Fab', the anti-CD4 Fab' preferentially accumulated in the liver and lymph nodes, organs rich in CD4-positive cells, as observed by direct tissue measurements. CONCLUSION: Despite its monovalency, the anti-CD4 Fab' retains the in vivo selectivity for CD4-positive cell-rich tissues, previously reported for the complete anti-CD4 MAb, and improves imaging of inflamed joints in experimental adjuvant arthritis.
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