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Bioconjug Chem. 2006 Nov-Dec;17(6):1551-60.

Influence of the linker on the biodistribution and catabolism of actinium-225 self-immolative tumor-targeted isotope generators.

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Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Chemistry, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.


Current limitations to applications of monoclonal antibody (mAb) targeted isotope generators in radioimmunotherapy include the low mAb labeling yields and the nonspecific radiation of normal tissues by nontargeted radioimmunoconjugates (RIC). Radiotoxicity occurs in normal organs that metabolize radiolabeled proteins and peptides, primarily liver and kidneys, or in radiosensitive organs with prolonged exposure to the isotope from the blood, such as the bone marrow. Actinium-225 nanogenerators also have the problem of released agar-emitting daughters. We developed two new bifunctional chelating agents (BCA) in order to address these issues. Thiol-maleimide conjugation chemistry was employed to increase the efficiency of the mAb radiolabelings by up to 8-fold. In addition, one bifunctional chelating agent incorporated a cleavable linker to alter the catabolism of the alpha-particle-emitting mAb conjugate. This linker was designed to be sensitive to cathepsins to allow release and clearance of the chelated radiometal after internalization of the radioimmunoconjugate into the cell. We compared the properties of the cleavable conjugate (mAb-DOTA-G3FC) to noncleavable constructs (mAb-DOTA-NCS and mAb-DOTA-SH). The cleavable RIC was able to release 80% of its radioactive payload when incubated with purified cathepsin B. The catabolism of the constructs mAb-DOTA-G3FC and mAb-DOTA-NCS was investigated in vitro and in vivo. RIC integrity was retained at 85% over a period of 136 h in mouse serum in vivo. Both conjugates were degraded over time inside HL-60 cells after internalization and in mouse liver in vivo. While we found that the rates of degradation of the two RICs in those conditions were similar, the amounts of the radiolabeled product residues were different. The cleavable mAb-DOTA-G3FC conjugate yielded a larger proportion of fragments below 6kDa in size in mouse liver in vivo after 12 h than the DOTA-NCS conjugate. Biodistribution studies in mice showed that the mAb-DOTA-G3FC construct yielded a higher liver dose and prolonged liver retention of radioactivity compared to the mAb-DOTA-NCS conjugate. The accumulation in the liver seemed to be in part caused by the maleimide functionalization of the antibody, since the noncleavable mAb-DOTA-SH maleimide-functionalized control conjugate displayed the same biodistribution pattern. These results provide an insight into the catabolism of RICs, by demonstrating that the release of the radioisotope from a RIC is not a sufficient condition to allow the radioactive moiety to clear from the body. The excretion mechanisms of radiolabeled fragments seem to constitute a major limiting step in the chain of events leading to their clearance.

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