Introduction: Bombesin (BBN) and BBN analogues have attracted much attention as high-affinity ligands for selective targeting of the gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) receptor. GRP receptors are overexpressed in a variety of human cancers including prostate cancer. Radiolabeled BBN derivatives are promising diagnostic probes for molecular imaging of GRP receptor-expressing prostate cancer. This study describes the synthesis and radiopharmacological evaluation of various metabolically stabilized fluorobenzoylated bombesin analogues (BBN- 1, BBN- 2, BBN- 3). Methods: Three fluorobenzoylated BBN analogues containing an aminovaleric (BBN-1, BBN-2), or an aminooctanoic acid linker (BBN-3) were tested in a competitive binding assay against 125I-[Tyr4]-BBN for their binding potency to the GRP receptor. Intracellular calcium release in human prostate cancer cells (PC3) was measured to determine agonistic or antagonistic profiles of fluorobenzoylated BBN derivatives. Bombesin derivative BBN-2 displayed the highest inhibitory potency toward GRP receptor (IC50=8.7±2.2nM) and was subsequently selected for radiolabeling with fluorine-18 (18F) through acylation with N-succinimidyl-4-[18F]fluorobenzoate ([18F]SFB). The radiopharmacological profile of 18F-labeled bombesin [18F]BBN-2 was evaluated in PC3 tumor-bearing NMRI nude mice involving metabolic stability studies, biodistribution experiments and dynamic small-animal PET studies. Results: All fluorobenzoylated BBN derivatives displayed high inhibitory potency toward the GRP receptor (IC50=8.7-16.7nM), and all compounds exhibited antagonistic profiles as determined in an intracellular calcium release assay. The 18F-labeled BBN analogue [18F]BBN-2 was obtained in 30% decay-corrected radiochemical yield with high radiochemical purity >95% after semi-preparative HPLC purification. [18F]BBN-2 showed high metabolic stability in vivo with 65% of the radiolabeled peptide remaining intact after 60min p.i. in mouse plasma. Biodistribution experiments and dynamic small-animal PET studies demonstrated high tumor uptake of [18F]BBN-2 in PC3 xenografts (2.75±1.82 %ID/g after 5min and 2.45±1.25 %ID/g after 60min p.i.). Specificity of radiotracer uptake in PC3 tumors was confirmed by blocking experiments. Conclusion: The present study demonstrates that 18F-labeled BBN analogue [18F]BBN-2 is a suitable PET radiotracer with favorable metabolic stability in vivo for molecular imaging of GRP receptor-positive prostate cancer.
- Bombesin (BBN)
- Gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) receptor
- N-succinimidyl-4-[F]fluorobenzoate ([F]SFB)
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Prostate cancer