Micro-PET imaging of beta-glucuronidase activity by the hydrophobic conversion of a glucuronide probe.

PMID 19717754


To develop a new glucuronide probe for micro-positron emission topography (PET) that can depict beta-glucuronidase (betaG)-expressing tumors in vivo. All animal experiments were preapproved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. A betaG-specific probe was generated by labeling phenolphthalein glucuronide (PTH-G) with iodine 131 ((131)I) or (124)I. To test the specificity of the probe in vitro, (124)I-PTH-G was added to CT26 and betaG-expressing CT26 (CT26/betaG) cells. Mice bearing CT26 and CT26/betaG tumors (n = 6) were injected with (124)I-PTH-G and subjected to micro-PET imaging. A betaG-specific inhibitor D-saccharic acid 1,4-lactone monohydrate was used in vitro and in vivo to ascertain the specificity of the glucuronide probes. Finally, the biodistributions of the probes were determined in selected organs after injection of (131)I-PTH-G to mice bearing CT26 and CT26/betaG tumors (n = 14). Differences in the radioactivity in CT26 and CT26/betaG tumors were analyzed with the Wilcoxon signed rank test. (124)I-PTH-G was selectively converted to (124)I-PTH (phenolphthalein), which accumulated in CT26/betaG cells and tumors in vitro. The micro-PET images demonstrated enhanced activity in CT26/betaG tumors resulting from betaG-mediated conversion and trapping of the radioactive probes. Accumulation of radioactive signals was 3.6-, 3.4-, and 3.3-fold higher in the CT26/betaG tumors than in parental CT26 tumors at 1, 3, and 20 hours, respectively, after injection of the probe (for all the three time points, P < .05). Hydrophilic-hydrophobic conversion of (124)I-PTH-G probe can aid in imaging of betaG-expressing tumors in vivo.