Molecular imaging of lymphoid organs and immune activation using positron emission tomography with a new 18F-labeled 2′-deoxycytidine analog


Monitoring immune function using molecular imaging could significantly impact the diagnosis and treatment evaluation of immunological disorders and therapeutic immune responses. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a molecular imaging modality with applications in cancer and other diseases. PET studies of immune function have been limited by a lack of specialized probes. We identified [18F]FAC (1-(2′-deoxy-2′-[18F]fluoroarabinofuranosyl) cytosine) by differential screening as a new PET probe for the deoxyribonucleotide salvage pathway. [18F]FAC enabled visualization of lymphoid organs and was sensitive to localized immune activation in a mouse model of anti-tumor immunity. [18F]FAC microPET also detected early changes in lymphoid mass in systemic autoimmunity and allowed evaluation of immunosuppressive therapy. These data support the use of [18F]FAC PET for immune monitoring and suggest a wide range of clinical applications in immune disorders and in certain types of cancer.

Nat Med. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2009 Aug 3.
Published in final edited form as:
Nat Med. 2008 Jul; 14(7): 783–788.
Published online 2008 Jun 8. doi: 10.1038/nm1724

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Noninvasive prediction of tumor responses to gemcitabine using positron emission tomography


Gemcitabine (2′,2′-difluorodeoxycytidine, dFdC) and cytosine arabinoside (cytarabine, ara-C) represent a class of nucleoside analogs used in cancer chemotherapy. Administered as prodrugs, dFdC and ara-C are transported across cell membranes and are converted to cytotoxic derivatives through consecutive phosphorylation steps catalyzed by endogenous nucleoside kinases. Deoxycytidine kinase (DCK) controls the rate-limiting step in the activation cascade of dFdC and ara-C. DCK activity varies significantly among individuals and across different tumor types and is a critical determinant of tumor responses to these prodrugs. Current assays to measure DCK expression and activity require biopsy samples and are prone to sampling errors. Noninvasive methods that can detect DCK activity in tumor lesions throughout the body could circumvent these limitations. Here, we demonstrate an approach to detecting DCK activity in vivo by using positron emission tomography (PET) and 18F-labeled 1-(2′-deoxy-2′-fluoroarabinofuranosyl) cytosine] ([18F]FAC), a PET probe recently developed by our group. We show that [18F]FAC is a DCK substrate with an affinity similar to that of dFdC. In vitro, accumulation of [18F]FAC in murine and human leukemia cell lines is critically dependent on DCK activity and correlates with dFdC sensitivity. In mice, [18F]FAC accumulates selectively in DCK-positive vs. DCK-negative tumors, and [18F]FAC microPET scans can predict responses to dFdC. We suggest that [18F]FAC PET might be useful for guiding treatment decisions in certain cancers by enabling individualized chemotherapy.

Published online 2009 Feb 5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812890106

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