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Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2012 Jan;39(1):149-59. doi: 10.1007/s00259-011-1941-7. Epub 2011 Oct 8.

A comparative small-animal PET evaluation of [11C]tariquidar, [11C]elacridar and (R)-[11C]verapamil for detection of P-glycoprotein-expressing murine breast cancer.

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Health & Environment Department, Molecular Medicine, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH, Seibersdorf, Austria.



One important mechanism for chemoresistance of tumours is overexpression of the adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp). Pgp reduces intracellular concentrations of chemotherapeutic drugs. The aim of this study was to compare the suitability of the radiolabelled Pgp inhibitors [(11)C]tariquidar and [(11)C]elacridar with the Pgp substrate radiotracer (R)-[(11)C]verapamil for discriminating tumours expressing low and high levels of Pgp using small-animal PET imaging in a murine breast cancer model.


Murine mammary carcinoma cells (EMT6) were continuously exposed to doxorubicin to generate a Pgp-overexpressing, doxorubicin-resistant cell line (EMT6AR1.0 cells). Both cell lines were subcutaneously injected into female athymic nude mice. One week after implantation, animals underwent PET scans with [(11)C]tariquidar (n = 7), [(11)C]elacridar (n = 6) and (R)-[(11)C]verapamil (n = 7), before and after administration of unlabelled tariquidar (15 mg/kg). Pgp expression in tumour grafts was evaluated by Western blotting.


[(11)C]Tariquidar showed significantly higher retention in Pgp-overexpressing EMT6AR1.0 compared with EMT6 tumours: the mean ± SD areas under the time-activity curves in scan 1 from time 0 to 60 min (AUC(0-60)) were 38.8 ± 2.2 min and 25.0 ± 5.3 min (p = 0.016, Wilcoxon matched pairs test). [(11)C]Elacridar and (R)-[(11)C]verapamil were not able to discriminate Pgp expression in tumour models. Following administration of unlabelled tariquidar, both EMT6Ar1.0 and EMT6 tumours showed increases in uptake of [(11)C]tariquidar, [(11)C]elacridar and (R)-[(11)C]verapamil.


Among the tested radiotracers, [(11)C]tariquidar performed best in discriminating tumours expressing high and low levels of Pgp. Therefore [(11)C]tariquidar merits further investigation as a PET tracer to assess Pgp expression levels in solid tumours.

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