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Nat Biotechnol. 2003 Apr;21(4):405-13. Epub 2003 Mar 24.

Serial in vivo imaging of the targeted migration of human HSV-TK-transduced antigen-specific lymphocytes.

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Allogeneic Bone Marrow Transplantation Service, Department of Pediatrics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.


New technologies are needed to characterize the migration, survival, and function of antigen-specific T cells in vivo. Here, we demonstrate that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)--specific T cells transduced with vectors encoding herpes simplex virus-1 thymidine kinase (HSV-TK) selectively accumulate radiolabeled 2'-fluoro-2'-deoxy-1-beta-D-arabinofuranosyl-5-iodouracil (FIAU). After adoptive transfer, HSV-TK+ T cells labeled in vitro or in vivo with [131I]FIAU or [124I]FIAU can be noninvasively tracked in SCID mice bearing human tumor xenografts by serial images obtained by scintigraphy or positron emission tomography (PET), respectively. These T cells selectively accumulate in EBV+ tumors expressing the T cells' restricting HLA allele but not in EBV- or HLA-mismatched tumors. The concentrations of transduced T cells detected in tumors and tissues are closely correlated with the concentrations of label retained at each site. Radiolabeled transduced T cells retain their capacity to eliminate targeted tumors selectively. This technique for imaging the migration of ex vivo-transduced antigen-specific T cells in vivo is informative, nontoxic, and potentially applicable to humans.

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