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J Nucl Med. 2008 Sep;49(9):1472-9. doi: 10.2967/jnumed.108.052316. Epub 2008 Aug 14.

Correlating EGFR expression with receptor-binding properties and internalization of 64Cu-DOTA-cetuximab in 5 cervical cancer cell lines.

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Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The anti-epidermal growth factor receptor (anti-EGFR) antibody cetuximab is clinically approved for the treatment of EGFR-expressing metastatic colorectal cancer and advanced head and neck cancer. Overexpression of EGFR has also been found in more than 70% of carcinomas of the cervix. The overall goal of this study was to determine whether (64)Cu-1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N',N'',N'''-tetraacetic acid (DOTA)-cetuximab has potential as an agent for measuring EGFR concentration by PET imaging in cervical cancer tumors.


Cetuximab was conjugated to the bifunctional chelator DOTA and labeled with (64)Cu. EGFR messenger RNA (mRNA) expression was correlated with EGFR densities on the cell surface of 5 different cervical cancer cell lines and with receptor function, measured by internalization of (64)Cu-DOTA-cetuximab. Imaging in tumor-bearing mice with small-animal PET was performed using the highest-expressing cervical cancer cell line.


The affinity of (64)Cu-DOTA-cetuximab binding for the EGFR was similar in 4 EGFR-positive lines, varying from 0.1 to 0.7 nM. The mRNA expression corresponded well with EGFR densities and levels of internalization, with responses decreasing in the order of CaSki>ME-180>DoTc2 4510>HeLa>C-33A. Biodistribution and small-animal PET studies with (64)Cu-DOTA-cetuximab in CaSki tumor-bearing nude mice showed relatively high tumor uptake at 24 h after injection (13.2+/-1.2 percentage of injected activity per gram), although there was also significant retention of activity in the blood and liver accumulation.


(64)Cu-DOTA-cetuximab was successfully used to detect and quantify EGFR expression in cervical cancer tumors, and small-animal PET/CT of EGFR-expressing CaSki tumors suggests potential for PET/CT of EGFR-positive tumors.

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