Improved magnetic resonance molecular imaging of tumor angiogenesis by avidin-induced clearance of nonbound bimodal liposomes

Geralda A.F. Van Tilborg, Willem J.M. Mulder, Daisy W.J. Van Der Schaft, Chris P.M. Reutelingsperger, Arjan W. Griffioen, Gustav J. Strijkers, Klaas Nicolay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Angiogenic, that is, newly formed, blood vessels play an important role in tumor growth and metastasis and are a potential target for tumor treatment. In previous studies, the αvβ3 integrin, which is strongly expressed in angiogenic vessels, has been used as a target for Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD)-functionalized nanoparticulate contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging-based visualization of angiogenesis. In the present study, the target-to-background ratio was increased by diminishing the nonspecific contrast enhancement originating from contrast material present in the blood pool. This was accomplished by the use of a so-called avidin chase, which allowed rapid clearance of nonbound paramagnetic RGD-biotin-liposomes from the blood circulation. C57BL/6 mice, bearing a B16F10 mouse melanoma, received RGD-functionalized or untargeted biotin-liposomes, which was followed by avidin infusion or no infusion. Precontrast, postcontrast, and postavidin T 1-weighted magnetic resonance images were acquired at 6.3 T. Postcontrast images showed similar percentages of contrast-enhanced pixels in the tumors of mice that received RGD-biotin-liposomes and biotin-liposomes. Post avidin infusion this percentage rapidly decreased to precontrast levels for biotin-liposomes, whereas a significant amount of contrast-enhanced pixels remained present for RGD-biotin-liposomes. These results showed that besides target-associated contrast agent, the circulating contrast agent contributed significantly to the contrast enhancement as well. Ex vivo fluorescence microscopy confirmed association of the RGD-biotin-liposomes to tumor endothelial cells bothwith and without avidin infusion, whereas biotin-liposomes were predominantly found within the vessel lumen. The clearance methodology presented in this study successfully enhanced the specificity of molecular magnetic resonance imaging and opens exciting possibilities for studying detection limits and targeting kinetics of site-directed contrast agents in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1469
Number of pages11
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008


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