Radiolabeled constructs for evaluation of the asialoglycoprotein receptor status and hepatic functional reserves.
ABSTRACT Transplantation of isolated hepatocytes may eventually replace a whole liver transplantation for the treatment of selected liver metabolic disorders and acute hepatic failure. To understand the behavior of transplanted hepatocytes, methods for longitudinal assessment of functional activity and survival of hepatocyte transplants must be developed. Targeting of asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPr) with various radiolabeled or Gd-labeled constructs of asialofetuin (AF) is expected to allow noninvasive and quantitative assessments of the ASGPr status in functioning hepatocytes before and after the transplant. Six new constructs of (125)I-, (99m)Tc-, (153)Gd-, and (111)In-radiolabeled AF with distinct stabilities and clearance rates were prepared and evaluated in vitro in mice, rat, porcine, and human hepatocytes, and in vivo in mice and rats. The blood and organ clearance rates, as well as liver and spleen uptake, were measured. Even extensive chemical modifications of AF with poly-l-lysine and various chelating agents do not appear to diminish AF's binding to ASGPr. Binding to isolated hepatocytes and the in vivo liver uptake studies indicate unimpaired functional activity of AF as evidenced by the rapid (<10 min) and nearly complete hepatic extraction of AF constructs from the systemic circulation. The catabolic processing and elimination of AF constructs from liver depend on the chemical modification used in the preparation of a given reagent. Radioiodinated AF has by far the shortest postabsorption (5.1 min +/- 0.05 min) and elimination half-lives (2.8 +/- 0.06 h) in liver. In comparison, the AF construct prepared by conjugation of DTPA- and 2-iminothiolane-substituted p-Lys with N-sulfosuccinimidyl 4-(p-maleimidophenyl)butyrate (SMPB)-modified AF (AF-SMPB-Traut-p-Lys-((111)In-DTPA)(20)(-)(30)) has a hepatic postabsorption time of 9.1 +/- 0.1 min and an elimination half-life of 44.3 +/- 3.08 h, whereas [(99m)Tc]technetium-labeled AF appears to be permanently retained in liver. These differences in rates of liver uptake and clearance of catabolized radiolabeled AF can be used to determine functional activity of liver and transplanted hepatocytes.