Endoglin based in vivo near-infrared fluorescence imaging of tumor models in mice using activatable liposomes.
Tansi FL, Rüger R, Kollmeier AM, Rabenhold M, Steiniger F, Kontermann RE, Teichgraeber UK, Fahr A, Hilger I.
Endoglin (CD105) is overexpressed on tumor cells and tumor vasculatures, making it a potential target for diagnostic imaging and therapy of different neoplasms. Therefore, studies on nanocarrier systems designed for endoglin-directed diagnostic and drug delivery purposes would expose the feasibility of targeting endoglin with therapeutics.
Liposomes carrying high concentrations of a near-infrared fluorescent dye in the aqueous interior were prepared by the lipid film hydration and extrusion procedure, then conjugated to single chain antibody fragments either selective for murine endoglin (termed mEnd-IL) or directed towards human endoglin (termed hEnd-IL). A combination of Dynamic Light Scattering, electron microscopy, cell binding and uptake assays, confocal microscopy and in vivo fluorescence imaging of mice bearing xenografted human breast cancer and human fibrosarcoma models were implemented to elucidate the potentials of the liposomes.
The mEnd-IL and hEnd-IL were highly selective for the respective murine- and human endoglin expressing cells in vitro and in vivo. Hence, the hEnd-IL bound distinctly to the tumor cells and enabled suitable fluorescence imaging of the tumors, whereas the mEnd-IL bound the tumor vasculature, but also to the liver, kidney and lung vasculature of mice.
The work highlights key differences between targeting vascular (murine) and neoplastic (human) endoglin in animal studies, and suggests that the hEnd-IL can serve as a delivery system that targets human endoglin overexpressed in pathological conditions.
The endoglin-targeting liposomes presented herewith represent strategic tools for the future implementation of endoglin-directed neoplastic and anti-angiogenic therapies.