Prediction of proapoptotic anticancer therapeutic response in vivo based on cell death visualization and TRAIL death ligand-receptor interaction

LanLan Zhou, Wenge Wang, David T Dicker, Robin C Humphreys, Wafik S El-Deiry
Cancer Biology & Therapy 2011 August 15, 12 (4): 335-48
Tumor growth is often associated with insufficient apoptosis. The Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand (TRAIL) and its proapoptotic receptors death receptor 4 (DR4) and DR5 agonistic monoclonal antibodies are being developed as targeted therapeutics because they kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells. A challenge to targeted therapeutics is the selection of patients who are most likely to benefit from targeted drugs because of the heterogeneity of cancer. Molecular imaging may be useful in targeted drug development by assessing the target expression and drug-target interaction, and for predicting therapeutic response. We hypothesized that the cell surface expression level of DR4/5 may predict the proapoptotic targeted therapeutic response if the signaling pathway downstream is intact. The goal of this proof-of-concept study was to develop a molecular imaging strategy to predict proapoptotic anti-cancer therapy response at an early stage of treatment. TRAIL and the DR5 agonistic monoclonal antibody HGS-ETR2 (Lexatumumab, TRM-2) were labeled with a near-infrared dye and these were used to image the TRAIL receptors on cultured TRAIL sensitive and TRAIL resistant human tumor cells as well as tumor xenografts. Imaging of cells and tumor-bearing animals was conducted with near infrared fluorescence imagers and apoptosis in cells was assessed by western blots of PARP-cleavage and flow cytometry of sub-G1 content. Apoptosis in tumors was evaluated by imaging near-infrared dye-labeled Annexin V and tumor tissue activated caspase-3 staining. Both in vitro and in vivo studies showed that imaging of death inducing ligand-receptor interaction was consistent with the apoptosis readout. Thus TRAIL sensitive tumors that express TRAIL receptors underwent cell death following treatment whereas tumors lacking TRAIL receptor expression were shown to be TRAIL resistant. In vivo molecular imaging of TRAIL receptor expression correlated with response to TRAIL therapy and an apoptotic response in vivo.

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