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TOMOGRAPHY, June 2016, Volume 2, Issue 2: 85-93
DOI: 10.18383/j.tom.2016.00130

First 18F-labeled Pentixafor-based Imaging Agent for PET Imaging of CXCR4-expression in Vivo

Andreas Poschenrieder1, Theresa Osl1, Margret Schottelius1, Frauke Hoffmann1, Martina Wirtz1, Markus Schwaiger2, and Hans-Jürgen Wester1

Pharmaceutical Radiochemistry, Technische Universität München, Germany and 2 Nuklearmedizinische Klinik und Poliklinik, Technische Universität München, Ismaningerstr, München, Germany


In vivo quantification of CXCR4 expression using [68Ga]pentixafor for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging has gained significant clinical interest as CXCR4 plays a fundamental role in oncology and possesses potential prognostic value when overexpressed. To combine the excellent CXCR4-targeting properties of pentixafor-based tracers with the favorable radionuclide properties of 18F for high-resolution PET imaging, we developed an Al18F-labeled 1,4,7-triazacyclononane-triacetic acid (NOTA) analog of pentixather. Al18F-labeling of NOTA-pentixather was performed in aqueous dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) at pH = 4 (105°C, 15 minutes). CXCR4 affinities were determined in competitive binding assays, and both biodistribution and small-animal PET studies were performed in Daudi lymphoma-bearing mice. Under non-optimized conditions, [18F]AlF-NOTA-pentixather was obtained in radiochemical yields of 45.5% ± 13.3% and specific activities of up to 24.8 GBq/ µmol. Compared with [natGa]pentixafor, [natF]AlF-NOTA-pentixather showed 1.4-fold higher CXCR4 affinity. [18F]AlF-NOTA-pentixather displayed high and CXCR4-specific in vivo uptake in Daudi xenografts (13.9% ± 0.8% injected dose per gram [ID/g] at 1 hour post injection [p.i.]). Because of its enhanced lipophilicity (logP 1.4), [18F]AlF-NOTA-pentixather showed increased accumulation in the gall bladder and intestines. However, tumor/background ratios of 7.0 ± 1.2, 2.0 ± 0.3, 2.2 ± 0.4, 16.5 ± 6.5, and 29.2 ± 4 for blood, liver, small intestine, gut, and muscle, respectively, allowed for high-contrast visualization of Daudi tumors using PET (1 hour p.i.). The relatively straightforward radiosynthesis and efficient CXCR4 targeting of [18F]AlF-NOTA-pentixather demonstrate the successful implementation of 18F-complexation chemistry and pentixather-based CXCR4 targeting. Upon pharmacokinetic optimization, this class of tracers holds great promise for future application in humans.


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