DOI: 10.1186/s41181-017-0037-5Pages: 1-10

Metabolite profiling with HPLC-ICP-MS as a tool for in vivo characterization of imaging probes

1. Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, A. A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging

2. Massachusetts General Hospital, Institute for Innovation in Imaging, Department of Radiology

3. Stony Brook University, Present address: Department of Chemistry

Correspondence to:
Peter Caravan
Tel: 617-643-0193




Current analytical methods for characterizing pharmacokinetic and metabolic properties of positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) probes are limited. Alternative methods to study tracer metabolism are needed. The study objective was to assess the potential of high performance liquid chromatography - inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (HPLC-ICP-MS) for quantification of molecular probe metabolism and pharmacokinetics using stable isotopes.


Two known peptide-DOTA conjugates were chelated with natGa and natIn. Limit of detection of HPLC-ICP-MS for 69Ga and 115In was determined. Rats were administered 50–150 nmol of Ga- and/or In-labeled probes, blood was serially sampled, and plasma analyzed by HPLC-ICP-MS using both reverse phase and size exclusion chromatography.


The limits of detection were 0.16 pmol for 115In and 0.53 pmol for 69Ga. Metabolites as low as 0.001 %ID/g could be detected and transchelation products identified. Simultaneous administration of Ga- and In-labeled probes allowed the determination of pharmacokinetics and metabolism of both probes in a single animal.


HPLC-ICP-MS is a robust, sensitive and radiation-free technique to characterize the pharmacokinetics and metabolism of imaging probes.

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  • Accepted: Dec 26, 2017
  • Online: Jan 22, 2018

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