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Semin Nucl Med. 1989 Jul;19(3):187-201.

Labeling of monoclonal antibodies with radionuclides.

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Department of Nuclear Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine-Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, NY 10461.


Antibodies, specifically monoclonal antibodies, are potentially very useful and powerful carriers of therapeutic agents to target tissues and diagnostic agents. The loading or charging of antibodies with agents, especially radiotracers, is reviewed here. The choice of radioisotope for immunodetection and/or immunotherapy is based on its availability, half-life, nature of the radiation emitted, and the metabolic pathways of the radionuclide in the body. Most important of all are the derivatization techniques available for labeling the antibody with the given radionuclide. Isotopes of iodine and divalent metal ions are the most commonly used radionuclides. Antibodies labeled with iodine at tyrosine residues are metabolized rapidly in vivo. This leads to the incorporation of metabolized radioactive iodine into various tissues, mainly the thyroid gland and stomach, and to the accumulation of high levels of circulating iodine in the blood, which masks tumor uptake considerably. To overcome these limitations, the use of iodohippurate as an iodine-anchoring molecule to the protein should be considered. When divalent or multivalent metal ions are used as the preferred radionuclide, bifunctional chelating reagents such as ethylenediaminepentaacetic acid (EDTA) or diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA) are first coupled to the protein or antibody. These chelating molecules are attached to the protein by formation of an isopeptide linkage between the carboxylate of the chelating reagent and the amino group of the protein. Several procedures are available to generate the isopeptide linkage. When the anchoring of the chelating agent through isopeptide linkage results in the inactivation of the antibody, periodate oxidation of the carbohydrate moiety of the antibody, followed by reductive coupling of chelator, could be considered as an alternative. There is still a need for better, simpler, and more direct methods for labeling antibodies with radionuclides.

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