MSCTRAIL is a cell-based therapy consisting of human allogeneic umbilical cord-derived MSCs genetically modified to express the anti-cancer protein TRAIL. Though cell-based therapies are typically designed with a target tissue in mind, delivery is rarely assessed due to a lack of translatable non-invasive imaging approaches. In this preclinical study, we demonstrate 89Zr-oxine labelling and PET-CT imaging as a potential clinical solution for non-invasively tracking MSCTRAIL biodistribution. Future implementation of this technique should improve our understanding of MSCTRAIL during its evaluation as a therapy for metastatic lung adenocarcinoma. MSCTRAIL were radiolabelled with 89Zr-oxine and assayed for viability, phenotype, and therapeutic efficacy post-labelling. PET-CT imaging of 89Zr-oxine-labelled MSCTRAIL was performed in a mouse model of lung cancer following intravenous injection, and biodistribution was confirmed ex vivo. MSCTRAIL retained the therapeutic efficacy and MSC phenotype in vitro at labelling amounts up to and above those required for clinical imaging. The effect of 89Zr-oxine labelling on cell proliferation rate was amount- and time-dependent. PET-CT imaging showed delivery of MSCTRAIL to the lungs in a mouse model of lung cancer up to 1 week post-injection, validated by in vivo bioluminescence imaging, autoradiography, and fluorescence imaging on tissue sections. 89Zr-oxine labelling and PET-CT imaging present a potential method of evaluating the biodistribution of new cell therapies in patients, including MSCTRAIL. This offers to improve understanding of cell therapies, including mechanism of action, migration dynamics, and inter-patient variability.
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