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Spectroscopic photoacoustic molecular imaging of breast cancer using a B7-H3-targeted ICG contrast agent

Katheryne E. Wilson, Sunitha V. Bachawal, Lotfi Abou-Elkacem, Kristen Jensen, Steven Machtaler, Lu Tian, Jürgen K. Willmann
Theranostics2017
Purpose: Breast cancer imaging methods lack diagnostic accuracy, in particular for patients with dense breast tissue, and improved techniques are critically needed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate antibody-indocyanine green (ICG) conjugates, which undergo dynamic absorption spectrum shifts after cellular endocytosis and degradation, and spectroscopic photoacoustic (sPA) imaging to differentiate normal breast tissue from breast cancer by imaging B7-H3, a novel breast cancer associated molecular target. Methods: Quantitative immunohistochemical staining of endothelial and epithelial B7-H3 expression was assessed in 279 human breast tissue samples, including normal (n=53), benign lesions (11 subtypes, n=129), and breast cancers (4 subtypes, n=97). After absorption spectra of intracellular and degraded B7-H3-ICG and Isotype control-ICG (Iso-ICG) were characterized, sPA imaging in a transgenic murine breast cancer model (FVB/N-Tg(MMTVPyMT)634Mul) was performed and compared to imaging of control conditions [B7-H3-ICG in tumor negative animals (n=60), Iso-ICG (n=30), blocking B7-H3+B7-H3-ICG (n=20), and free ICG (n=20)] and validated with ex vivo histological analysis. Results: Immunostaining showed differential B7-H3 expression on both the endothelium and tumor epithelium in human breast cancer with an area under the ROC curve of 0.93 to differentiate breast cancer vs non-cancer. Combined in vitro/in vivo imaging showed that sPA allowed specific B7-H3-ICG detection down to the 13 nM concentration and differentiation from Iso-ICG. sPA molecular imaging of B7-H3-ICG showed a 3.01-fold (P<0.01) increase in molecular B7-H3-ICG signal in tumors compared to control conditions. Conclusions: B7-H3 is a promising target for both vascular and epithelial sPA imaging of breast cancer. Leveraging antibody-ICG contrast agents and their dynamic optical absorption spectra allows for highly specific sPA imaging of breast cancer.
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