PloS one

In vivo imaging and quantification of carbonic anhydrase IX expression as an endogenous biomarker of tumor hypoxia.

PMID 23226406


Carbonic anhydrase IX (CA IX) is a transmembrane protein that has been shown to be greatly upregulated under conditions of hypoxia in many tumor cell lines. Tumor hypoxia is associated with impaired efficacy of cancer therapies making CA IX a valuable target for preclinical and diagnostic imaging. We have developed a quantitative in vivo optical imaging method for detection of CA IX as a marker of tumor hypoxia based on a near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent derivative of the CA IX inhibitor acetazolamide (AZ). The agent (HS680) showed single digit nanomolar inhibition of CA IX as well as selectivity over other CA isoforms and demonstrated up to 25-fold upregulation of fluorescent CA IX signal in hypoxic versus normoxic cells, which could be blocked by 60%-70% with unlabeled AZ. CA IX negative cell lines (HCT-116 and MDA-MB-231), as well as a non-binding control agent on CA IX positive cells, showed low fluorescent signal under both conditions. In vivo FMT imaging showed tumor accumulation and excellent tumor definition from 6-24 hours. In vivo selectivity was confirmed by pretreatment of the mice with unlabeled AZ resulting in >65% signal inhibition. HS680 tumor signal was further upregulated >2X in tumors by maintaining tumor-bearing mice in a low oxygen (8%) atmosphere. Importantly, intravenously injected HS680 signal was co-localized specifically with both CA IX antibody and pimonidazole (Pimo), and was located away from non-hypoxic regions indicated by a Hoechst stain. Thus, we have established a spatial correlation of fluorescence signal obtained by non-invasive, tomographic imaging of HS680 with regions of hypoxia and CA IX expression. These results illustrate the potential of HS680 and combined with FMT imaging to non-invasively quantify CA IX expression as a hypoxia biomarker, crucial to the study of the underlying biology of hypoxic tumors and the development and monitoring of novel anti-cancer therapies.