Radiolabeled phosphatidylserine (PS)-binding peptides represent an innovative strategy for molecular imaging of apoptosis and thrombus. The hexapeptide PGDLSR was described as a selective and high affinity ligand for PS. In this work, we synthesized and evaluated a gallium labelled-PGDLSR peptide as a potential and selective radiopharmaceutical for nuclear imaging. PGDLSR-β-alanine-NODAGA (P04087) was prepared using Fmoc-based synthesis and then chelated with cold gallium, 68Ga and 67Ga. The affinity of Ga-P04087 for PS was evaluated by a competitive binding assay using biotinylated AnnexinV. The in vitro stability of the radiotracer was checked at room temperature and after incubation in human serum at 37 °C with and without a metalloprotease inhibitor. The in vivo binding of 67Ga-P04087 to phosphatidylserine was evaluated in a rat model of infective endocarditis.Results
PGDLSR was successfully prepared with a yield of 31%. P04087 was obtained with a yield of 28% and in high chemical purity (>95%). The radiochemical purities of 67Ga-P04087 and 68Ga-P04087 exceeded 98% in all cases. IC50 of P04087 and Ga-P04087 were in the same order of magnitude (10−7M). The radiolabelled product was stable for 24 h at room temperature, but was very rapidly degraded in human serum in the absence of a protease inhibitor, which had a stabilizing effect. No focal uptake could be detected visually in the cardiac area on SPECT images. On autoradiography however, a focal uptake of 67Ga-P04087 in the valve area was present and histological slices demonstrated localization of peptide binding at the peripheral layer of vegetations.Conclusion
In spite of the preservation of the peptide affinity to the PS after its conjugation to the NODAGA chelator, and of the presence of 67Ga-P04087 uptake on autoradiography, the absence of detectable foci in vivo in the valve area may be attributed to both the low intensity of the signal and the presence of background activity originating from blood pool and surrounding tissues in the living animals. Further modifications are necessary to design a radiolabeled peptide with higher binding potencies to PS while possessing enhanced metabolic stability in vivo.
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