High sensitivity: High-resolution SPECT-CT/MR molecular imaging of angiogenesis in the Vx2 model

Michal Lijowski, Shelton Caruthers, Grace Hu, Huiying Zhang, Michael J. Scott, Todd Williams, Todd Erpelding, Anne H. Schmieder, Garry Kiefer, Gyongyi Gulyas, Phillip S. Athey, Patrick J. Gaffney, Samuel A. Wickline, Gregory M. Lanza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


Objectives:: The use of antiangiogenic therapy in conjunction with traditional chemotherapy is becoming increasingly in cancer management, but the optimal benefit of these targeted pharmaceuticals has been limited to a subset of the population treated. Improved imaging probes that permit sensitive detection and high-resolution characterization of tumor angiogenesis could improve patient risk-benefit stratification. The overarching objective of these experiments was to develop a dual modality ανβ3-targeted nanoparticle molecular imaging agent that affords sensitive nuclear detection in conjunction with high-resolution MR characterization of tumor angiogenesis. Materials and methods:: In part 1, New Zealand white rabbits (n = 21) bearing 14d Vx2 tumor received either ανβ3-targeted Tc nanoparticles at doses of 11, 22, or 44 MBq/kg, nontargeted Tc nanoparticles at 22 MBq/kg, or ανβ3-targeted Tc nanoparticles (22 MBq/kg) competitively inhibited with unlabeled ανβ3-nanoparticles. All animals were imaged dynamically over 2 hours with a planar camera using a pinhole collimator. In part 2, the effectiveness of ανβ3-targeted Tc nanoparticles in the Vx2 rabbit model was demonstrated using clinical SPECT-CT imaging techniques. Next, MR functionality was incorporated into ανβ3-targeted Tc nanoparticles by inclusion of lipophilic gadolinium chelates into the outer phospholipid layer, and the concept of high sensitivity - high-resolution detection and characterization of tumor angiogenesis was shown using sequential SPECT-CT and MR molecular imaging with 3D neovascular mapping. Results:: ανβ3-Targeted Tc nanoparticles at 22 MBq/kg produced the highest tumor-to-muscle contrast ratio (8.56 ± 0.13, TMR) versus the 11MBq/kg (7.32 ± 0.12) and 44 MBq/kg (6.55 ± 0.07) doses, (P < 0.05). TMR of nontargeted particles at 22.2 MBq/kg (5.48 ± 0.09) was less (P < 0.05) than the equivalent dosage of ανβ3-targeted Tc nanoparticles. Competitively inhibition of Tc ανβ3-integrin- targeted nanoparticles at 22.2 MBq/kg reduced (P < 0.05) TMR (5.31 ± 0.06) to the nontargeted control contrast level. Multislice CT imaging could not distinguish the presence of Vx2 tumor implanted in the popliteal fossa from lymph nodes in the same fossa or in the contralateral leg. However, the use of Tc ανβ3-nanoparticles with SPECT-CT produced a clear neovasculature signal from the tumor that was absent in the nonimplanted hind leg. Using ανβ3-targeted Tc-gadolinium nanoparticles, the sensitive detection of the Vx2 tumor was extended to allow MR molecular imaging and 3D mapping of angiogenesis in the small tumor, revealing an asymmetrically distributed, patchy neovasculature along the periphery of the cancer. Conclusion:: Dual modality molecular imaging with ανβ3-targeted Tc-gadolinium nanoparticles can afford highly sensitive and specific localization of tumor angiogenesis, which can be further characterized with high-resolution MR neovascular mapping, which may predict responsiveness to antiangiogenic therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigative Radiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2009


  • Angiogenesis
  • MRI
  • Nanoparticle
  • Neoplasia


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