In vivo imaging and quantitation of adoptively transferred human antigen-specific T cells transduced to express a human norepinephrine transporter gene

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.
Cancer Research (Impact Factor: 9.28). 01/2008; 67(24):11959-69. DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-1250
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Sequential imaging of genetically marked effector cells after adoptive transfer in vivo has greatly enhanced analyses of their biodistribution, growth, and activity both in animal models and in clinical trials of cellular immunotherapy. However, the immunogenicity of cells expressing xenogeneic reporter constructs limits their survival and clinical utility. To address this limitation, we have evaluated a human norepinephrine transporter (hNET) permitting imaging of transduced cells in vivo with a previously approved clinical grade radiolabeled probe, metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG). The hNET gene cDNA was cloned from the SK-N-SH cell line and inserted into a bicistronic retroviral vector also encoding green fluorescent protein. Following transfection, human EBV-specific T lymphocytes seemed fully functional in vitro and also selectively accumulated [(123)I]MIBG. In nonobese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficient mice bearing human EBV lymphoma xenografts, as few as 10(4) transduced T cells injected into the tumors could be imaged by single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET) after i.v. infusion of [(123)I]MIBG or [(124)I]MIBG, respectively. When hNET(+) EBV-specific T cells were infused i.v., their migration and specific accumulation in EBV(+) tumors expressing their restricting HLA allele could be imaged by SPECT or PET over 28 days. Image intensity was closely correlated with the number of T cells accumulated in targeted tumors. The use of two reporter probes (MIBG and 2'-deoxy-2'-fluoro-beta-d-arabinofuranosyl-5-iodouracil) permitted independent contemporaneous tracking of two distinct EBV-specific T-cell subpopulations expressing different reporter genes (hNET-CD4(+) T cells and HSV-TK-CD8(+) T cells) in the same animal using three-dimensional nuclear modalities (SPECT and PET). The hNET-based system described may thus have significant potential as a nonimmunogenic reporter for extended repeated quantitative in vivo imaging of transduced cells in man.

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