In phase I/II-studies radiolabelled ABY-025 Affibody molecules identified human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) expression in breast cancer metastases using PET and SPECT imaging. Here, we wanted to investigate the utility of a simple intra-image normalization using tumour-to-reference tissue-ratio (T/R) as a HER2 status discrimination strategy to overcome potential issues related to cross-calibration of scanning devices.Methods
Twenty-three women with pre-diagnosed HER2-positive/negative metastasized breast cancer were scanned with [111In]-ABY-025 SPECT/CT (n = 7) or [68Ga]-ABY-025 PET/CT (n = 16). Uptake was measured in all metastases and in normal spleen, lung, liver, muscle, and blood pool. Normal tissue uptake variation and T/R-ratios were established for various time points and for two different doses of injected peptide from a total of 94 whole-body image acquisitions. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was used to verify HER2 expression in 28 biopsied metastases. T/R-ratios were compared to IHC findings to establish the best reference tissue for each modality and each imaging time-point. The impact of shed HER2 in serum was investigated.Results
Spleen was the best reference tissue across modalities, followed by blood pool and lung. Spleen-T/R was highly correlated to PET SUV in metastases after 2 h (r = 0.96, P < 0.001) and reached an accuracy of 100% for discriminating IHC HER2-positive and negative metastases at 4 h (PET) and 24 h (SPECT) after injection. In a single case, shed HER2 resulted in intense tracer retention in blood. In the remaining patients shed HER2 was elevated, but without significant impact on ABY-025 biodistribution.Conclusion
T/R-ratios using spleen as reference tissue accurately quantify HER2 expression with radiolabelled ABY-025 imaging in breast cancer metastases with SPECT and PET. Tracer binding to shed HER2 in serum might affect quantification in the extreme case.
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