Helen Su

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States

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Publications (14)86.51 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Rupture of unstable atherosclerotic plaque that leads to stroke and myocardial infarction may be induced by macrophage infiltration and neovessel formation. A tracer that selectively binds to integrin αvβ3 a protein expressed by macrophages and neovascular endothelium may identify rupture prone plaque. (18)F-labeled "R-G-D" containing tripeptide (Flotegatide), a click chemistry derived radiotracer that binds to integrin αvβ3 was injected in ApoE knockout mice fed a high fat diet. Uptake of Flotegatide by atherosclerotic plaque was visualized by micro-PET, autoradiography, and correlated to histologic markers of inflammation and angiogenesis. We found that Flotegatide preferentially binds to aortic plaque in an ApoE knockout mouse model of atherosclerosis. The tracer's uptake is strongly associated with presence of histologic markers for macrophage infiltration and integrin expression. There is a weaker but detectable association between Flotegatide uptake and presence of an immunohistochemical marker for neovascularization. We hypothesize that Flotegatide may be a useful tracer for visualization of inflamed plaque in clinical subjects with atherosclerosis and may have potential for detecting vulnerable plaque.
    Journal of Nuclear Cardiology 03/2014; · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: A novel caspase-3 substrate-based probe [(18)F]-CP18 was evaluated as an in vivo positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent for monitoring apoptosis in tumors. METHODS: Uptake of [(18)F]-CP18 in cell assays and tumors was measured. Caspase-3/7 activities in cell lysates and tumor homogenates were determined. Autoradiography,Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL), and cleaved caspase-3 immunostaining were performed on adjacent tumor sections to identify areas of apoptosis. RESULTS: The in vitro cell assays showed caspase-3-dependent uptake of [(18)F]-CP18 in tumor cells when treated with an apoptosis inducer. The in vivo microPET imaging signal of [(18)F]-CP18 in xenograft tumors correlated with the ex vivo caspase-3/7 activities in these tumors. Furthermore, tumor autoradiographies of [(18)F]-CP18 in tumor sections matched adjacent sections stained by TUNEL and caspase-3 immunohistochemistry (IHC). CONCLUSIONS: [(18)F]-CP18 demonstrated high affinity and selectivity for activated caspase-3 both in vitro and in vivo, and the results support [(18)F]-CP18 as a promising new PET imaging agent for apoptosis.
    Molecular imaging and biology: MIB: the official publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging 05/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: We identified and validated [(18)F]-CP18, a DEVD (the caspase 3 substrate recognition motif) containing substrate-based compound as an imaging tracer for caspase-3 activity in apoptotic cells. PROCEDURES: CP18 was radiolabeled with fluorine-18 using click chemistry. The affinity and selectivity of CP18 for caspase-3 were evaluated in vitro. The biodistribution and metabolism pattern of [(18)F]-CP18 were assessed in vivo. [(18)F]-CP18 positron emission tomography (PET) scans were performed in a dexamethasone-induced thymic apoptosis mouse model. After imaging, the mice were sacrificed, and individual organs were collected, measured in a gamma counter, and tested for caspase-3 activity. RESULTS: In vitro enzymatic caspase-3 assay demonstrated specific cleavage of CP18. In vivo, [(18)F]-CP18 is predominantly cleared through the kidneys and urine, and is rapidly eliminated from the bloodstream. There was a sixfold increase in caspase activity and a fourfold increase of [(18)F]-CP18 retention in the dexamethasone-induced thymus of treated versus control mice. CONCLUSIONS: We report the use [(18)F]-CP18 as a PET tracer for imaging apoptosis. Our data support further development of this tracer for clinical PET applications.
    Molecular imaging and biology: MIB: the official publication of the Academy of Molecular Imaging 05/2013; · 2.47 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: We wished to develop a highly selective positron emission tomography (PET) imaging agent targeting PHF-tau in human Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains. METHODS: To screen potential tau binders, human AD brain sections were used as a source of native paired helical filament (PHF)-tau and Aβ rather than synthetic tau aggregates or Aβ fibrils generated in vitro to measure the affinity and selectivity of [(18)F]T807 to tau and Aβ. Brain uptake and biodistribution of [(18)F]T807 in mice were also tested. RESULTS: In vitro autoradiography results show that [(18)F]T807 exhibits strong binding to PHF-tau-positive human brain sections. A dissociation constant (K(d)) of [(18)F]T807 (14.6 nM) was measured using brain sections from the frontal lobe of AD patients. A comparison of autoradiography and double immunohistochemical staining of PHF-tau and Aβ on adjacent sections demonstrated that [(18)F]T807 binding colocalized with immunoreactive PHF-tau pathology, but did not highlight Aβ plaques. In vivo studies in mice demonstrated that [(18)F]T807 was able to cross the blood-brain barrier and washed out quickly. CONCLUSIONS: [(18)F]T807 demonstrates high affinity and selectivity to PHF-tau as well as favorable in vivo properties, making this a promising candidate as an imaging agent for AD.
    Alzheimer's & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer's Association 02/2013; · 14.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: CA II makes a good PET: Discovering positron emission tomography (PET) probes with high target affinities is challenging. PET probe discovery using in situ click chemistry uses (19) F-bearing fragments as (18) F surrogates. This ensures that the lead hits and PET probes have equivalent chemical or biological characteristics, making PET probe discovery predictable and reliable.
    ChemMedChem 12/2012; · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ChemMedChem 04/2011; 6(4):623-7. · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A supramolecular approach has been developed for the preparation of supramolecular nanoparticles (SNPs) with variable sizes (30-450 nm) from three different molecular building blocks using a cyclodextrin/adamantane recognition system. Positron emission tomography (PET) was employed to study the biodistribution and lymph node drainage of the SNPs in mice. The sizes of the SNPs affect their in vivo characteristics (see picture).
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition 06/2009; 48(24):4344-8. · 11.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Src family kinases (SFKs) are commonly deregulated in cancer cells. Among other functions, SFKs are critical for cellular migration and invasion. SFK inhibitors are being studied as targeted cancer drugs, but there are no biomarkers for noninvasive assessment of SFK inhibition. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether imaging of alpha(V)beta(3) integrin activity with positron emission tomography (PET) and [(64)Cu]DOTA-cyclo-(Arg-Gly-Asp-dPhe-Lys) {[(64)Cu]DOTA-c(RGDfK)} can be used for monitoring response to the SFK inhibitor dasatinib. Severe combined immunodeficient mice bearing U87MG xenografts were gavaged daily over 72 hours with 72 or 95 mg/kg of dasatinib or vehicle. Tumor uptake of [(64)Cu]DOTA-c(RGDfK) was measured by small-animal PET. In parallel, fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) scans were performed to assess tumor metabolism in response to dasatinib treatment. Dasatinib significantly (P<0.0001) reduced [(64)Cu]DOTA-c(RGDfK) uptake by up to 59% in U87MG xenografts [2.10+/-0.14% injected dose/gram (ID/g) in the 95 mg/kg group and 3.12+/-0.18% ID/g in the 72 mg/kg group, versus 5.08+/-0.80% ID/g in controls]. In contrast, tumor FDG uptake showed no significant reduction with dasatinib therapy (8.13+/-0.45% ID/g in treated versus 10.39+/-1.04% ID/g in controls; P=0.170). Histologically, tumors were viable at the time of the follow-up PET scan but showed inhibition of focal adhesion kinase. Continued dasatinib treatment resulted in a significant inhibition of tumor growth (tumor size on day 10 of therapy: 21.13+/-2.60 mm(2) in treated animals versus 122.50+/-17.68 mm(2) in controls; P=0.001). [(64)Cu]DOTA-c(RGDfK) may provide a sensitive means of monitoring tumor response to SFK inhibition in alpha(V)beta(3)-expressing cancers early in the course of therapy.
    Cancer Research 05/2009; 69(7):3173-9. · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Radiolabeled arginine-glycine-aspartate (RGD) peptides are increasingly used in preclinical and clinical studies to assess the expression and function of the alphavbeta3 integrin, a cellular adhesion molecule involved in angiogenesis and tumor metastasis formation. To better understand the PET signal obtained with radiolabeled RGD peptides, we have constructed a compartmental model that can describe the time-activity curves in tumors after an intravenous injection. We analyzed 60-min dynamic PET scans obtained with 64Cu-1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-N,N',N'',N'''-tetraacetic acid (DOTA)-RGD in 20 tumor-bearing severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice after a bolus dose (18,500 kBq [500 microCi]), using variations of the standard 2-compartment (4k) tissue model augmented with a compartment for irreversible tracer internalization. alphavbeta3 binding sites were blocked in 5 studies with a coinjection of cold peptide. In addition, 20 h after injection, static PET was performed on 9 of 20 mice. We fitted 2k (k3=k4=0), 3k (k4=0), 4k, and 4kc (k4=constant) models to the PET data and used several criteria to determine the best model structure for describing 64Cu-DOTA-RGD kinetics in mice. Akaike information criteria (AIC), calculated from model fits and the ability of each model to predict tumor concentration 20 h after tracer injection, were considered. The 4kc model has the best profile in terms of AIC values and predictive ability, and a constant k4 is further supported by Logan-Patlak analysis and results from iterative Bayesian parameter estimation. The internalization compartment allows quantification of the putative tracer internalization rate for each study, which is estimated here to be approximately an order of magnitude less than k3 and thus does not confound the apparent specific binding of the tracer to the tumor integrin during the first 60 min of the scan. Analysis of specific (S) and nonspecific or nondisplaceable (ND) binding using fitted parameter values showed that the 4kc model provided expected results when comparing alphavbeta3 blocked and nonblocked studies. That is, specific volume of distribution, [VS=(K1k3)/(k2k4)], is much higher than is nondisplaceable volume of distribution, [VND=(K1/k2)], in nonblocking studies (2.2+/-0.6 vs. 0.85+/-0.14); VS and VND are about the same in the blocking studies (0.46+/-1.6 vs. 0.56+/-0.09). Also, the ratio of static tumor and plasma measurements at 60 and 10 min [CT(60)/CP(10)] is highly correlated (RS=0.92) to tumor VS. We have developed and tested a compartmental model for use with the 64Cu-DOTA-RGD PET tracer and demonstrated its potential as a tool for analysis and design of preclinical and clinical imaging studies.
    Journal of Nuclear Medicine 02/2009; 50(2):250-8. · 5.77 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gefitinib, an inhibitor of the epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase (EGFR-TK), has shown potent effects in a subset of patients carrying specific EGFR-TK mutations in advanced non-small-cell lung cancer. In this study, we asked whether PET with [(18)F]gefitinib may be used to study noninvasively the pharmacokinetics of gefitinib in vivo and to image the EGFR status of cancer cells. Synthesis of [(18)F]gefitinib has been previously described. The biodistribution and metabolic stability of [(18)F]gefitinib was assessed in mice and vervet monkeys for up to 2 h post injection by both micropositron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) scans and postmortem ex vivo tissue harvesting. Uptake levels of radiolabeled gefitinib in EGFR-expressing human cancer cell lines with various levels of EGFR expression or mutation status were evaluated both in vivo and in vitro. MicroPET/CT scans in two species demonstrated a rapid and predominantly hepatobiliary clearance of [(18)F]gefitinib in vivo. However, uptake levels of radiolabeled gefitinib, both in vivo and in vitro, did not correlate with EGFR expression levels or functional status. This unexpected observation was due to high nonspecific, nonsaturable cellular uptake of gefitinib. The biodistribution of the drug analogue [(18)F]gefitinib suggests that it may be used to assess noninvasively the pharmacokinetics of gefitinib in patients by PET imaging. This is of clinical relevance, as insufficient intratumoral drug concentrations are considered to be a factor for resistance to gefitinib therapy. However, the highly nonspecific cellular binding of [(18)F]gefitinib may preclude the use of this imaging probe for noninvasive assessment of EGFR receptor status in patients.
    European journal of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging 07/2008; 35(6):1089-99. · 5.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Inhibition of the protein kinase mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is being evaluated for treatment of a variety of malignancies. However, the effects of mTOR inhibitors are cytostatic and standard size criteria do not reliably identify responding tumors. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether response to mTOR inhibition could be assessed by positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of tumor metabolism. Experiment Design: Glucose, thymidine, and amino acid utilization of human glioma cell lines with varying degrees of sensitivity to mTOR inhibition were assessed by measuring in vitro uptake of [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG), [18F]fluorothymidine ([18F]FLT), and [3H]l-tyrosine before and after treatment with the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin. The tumor metabolic activity in vivo was monitored by small-animal PET of tumor-bearing mice. The mechanisms underlying changes in metabolic activity were analyzed by measuring expression and functional activity of enzymes and transporters involved in the uptake of the studied imaging probes. In sensitive cell lines, rapamycin decreased [18F]FDG and [18F]FLT uptake by up to 65% within 24 hours after the start of therapy. This was associated with inhibition of hexokinase and thymidine kinase 1. In contrast, [3H]l-tyrosine uptake was unaffected by rapamycin. The effects of rapamycin on glucose and thymidine metabolism could be imaged noninvasively by PET. In sensitive tumors, [18F]FDG and [18F]FLT uptake decreased within 48 hours by 56 +/- 6% and 52 +/- 8%, respectively, whereas there was no change in rapamycin-resistant tumors. These encouraging preclinical data warrant clinical trials evaluating [18F]FDG and [18F]FLT-PET for monitoring treatment with mTOR inhibitors in patients.
    Clinical Cancer Research 06/2008; 14(11):3416-26. · 7.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The use of small animal imaging is increasing in biomedical research thanks to its ability to localize altered biochemical and physiological processes in the living animal and to follow these processes longitudinally and noninvasively. In contrast to human studies, however, imaging of small animals generally requires anesthesia, and anesthetic agents can have unintended effects on animal physiology that may confound the results of the imaging studies. In addition, repeated anesthesia, animal preparation for imaging, exposure to ionizing radiation, and the administration of contrast agents may affect the processes under study. We discuss this interplay of factors for small animal imaging in the context of four common imaging modalities for small animals: positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and optical imaging. We discuss animal preparation for imaging, including choice of animal strain and gender, the role of fasting and diet, and the circadian cycle. We review common anesthesias used in small animal imaging, such as pentobarbital, ketamine/xylazine, and isoflurane, and describe techniques for monitoring the respiration and circulation of anesthetized animals that are being imaged as well as developments for imaging conscious animals. We present current imaging literature exemplifying how anesthesia and animal handling can influence the biodistribution of PET tracers. Finally, we discuss how longitudinal imaging studies may affect animals due to repeated injections of radioactivity or other substrates and the general effect of stress on the animals. In conclusion, there are many animal handling issues to consider when designing an imaging experiment. Reproducible experimental conditions require clear, consistent reporting, in the study design and throughout the experiment, of the animal strain and gender, fasting, anesthesia, and how often individual animals were imaged.
    ILAR journal / National Research Council, Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources 02/2008; 49(1):17-26. · 1.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Targeted delivery represents a promising approach for the development of safer and more effective therapeutics for oncology applications. Although macromolecules accumulate nonspecifically in tumors through the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect, previous studies using nanoparticles to deliver chemotherapeutics or siRNA demonstrated that attachment of cell-specific targeting ligands to the surface of nanoparticles leads to enhanced potency relative to nontargeted formulations. Here, we use positron emission tomography (PET) and bioluminescent imaging to quantify the in vivo biodistribution and function of nanoparticles formed with cyclodextrin-containing polycations and siRNA. Conjugation of 1,4,7,10-tetraazacyclododecane-1,4,7,10-tetraacetic acid to the 5' end of the siRNA molecules allows labeling with (64)Cu for PET imaging. Bioluminescent imaging of mice bearing luciferase-expressing Neuro2A s.c. tumors before and after PET imaging enables correlation of functional efficacy with biodistribution data. Although both nontargeted and transferrin-targeted siRNA nanoparticles exhibit similar biodistribution and tumor localization by PET, transferrin-targeted siRNA nanoparticles reduce tumor luciferase activity by approximately 50% relative to nontargeted siRNA nanoparticles 1 d after injection. Compartmental modeling is used to show that the primary advantage of targeted nanoparticles is associated with processes involved in cellular uptake in tumor cells rather than overall tumor localization. Optimization of internalization may therefore be key for the development of effective nanoparticle-based targeted therapeutics.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 10/2007; 104(39):15549-54. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms underlying the sensitivity of non-small cell lung cancer to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase inhibitors are complex, and there are no established markers to accurately predict treatment outcome in individual patients. We investigated whether tumors responding to EGFR inhibitors can be identified by measuring treatment-induced changes in glucose utilization by positron emission tomography with the glucose analogue fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET). We studied a panel of cell lines with a spectrum of sensitivity to EGFR kinase inhibitors. After incubation with the EGFR kinase inhibitor gefitinib for various time points, FDG uptake, glucose transport rates, and hexokinase activity were determined. FDG uptake in vivo was assessed by microPET imaging of tumor xenografts in mice. In gefitinib-sensitive cell lines, there was a dramatic decrease in FDG uptake as early as 2 hours after treatment. Immunoblots showed the translocation of glucose transporters (GLUT3) from the plasma membrane to the cytosol; glucose transport rates were reduced 2.6-fold at this time. There was also a modest reduction of hexokinase activity. These metabolic alterations preceded changes in cell cycle distribution, thymidine uptake, and apoptosis. MicroPET studies showed an up to 55% decrease of tumor FDG uptake in sensitive xenografts within 48 hours. In contrast, gefitinib-resistant cells exhibited no measurable changes in FDG uptake, either in cell culture or in vivo. Glucose metabolic activity closely reflects response to gefitinib therapy. FDG-PET may be a valuable clinical predictor, early in the course of treatment, for therapeutic responses to EGFR kinase inhibitors.
    Clinical Cancer Research 11/2006; 12(19):5659-67. · 7.84 Impact Factor