Peptide receptor-based targeted molecular imaging and therapy of cancer is on the current forefront of nuclear medicine preclinical research and clinical practice. The frequent overexpression of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) receptors in prostate cancer stimulated the development of radiolabeled bombesin derivatives as high affinity peptide ligands for selective targeting of the GRP receptor. In this study, we have evaluated a novel 68Ga-labeled bombesin derivative for PET imaging of prostate cancer in vivo. In addition, we were interested in testing the recently proposed "serve-and-protect" strategy to improve metabolic stability of radiolabeled peptides in vivo and to enhance tumor uptake. GRP receptor targeting peptides NOTA-BBN2 and natGa-NOTA-BBN2 demonstrated a characteristic antagonistic profile and high binding affinity toward the GRP receptor in PC3 cells (IC50 4.6-8.2 nM). Radiolabeled peptide 68Ga-NOTA-BBN2 was obtained from NOTA-BBN2 in radiochemical yields greater than 62% (decay-corrected). Total synthesis time was 35 min, including purification using solid-phase extraction. 68Ga-NOTA-BBN2 exhibited favorable resistance against metabolic degradation by peptidases in vivo within the investigated time frame of 60 min. Interestingly, metabolic stability was not further enhanced in the presence of protease inhibitor phosphoramidon. Dynamic PET studies showed high tumor uptake in both PC3- and LNCaP-bearing BALB/c nude mice (SUV5min > 0.6; SUV60min > 0.5). Radiotracer 68Ga-NOTA-BBN2 represents a novel radiometal-based bombesin derivative suitable for GRP receptor targeting in PC3 and LNCaP mouse xenografts. Further increase of metabolic stability in vivo and enhanced tumor uptake were not observed upon administration of protease inhibitor phosphoramidon. This led to the conclusion that the recently proposed "serve-and-protect" strategy may not be valid for peptides exhibiting favorable intrinsic metabolic stability in vivo.
- gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) receptor
- prostate cancer