18F-meta-fluorobenzylguanidine (18F-mFBG) to monitor changes in norepinephrine transporter expression in response to therapeutic intervention in neuroblastoma models.
Turnock S., Turton DR., Martins CD., Chesler L., Wilson TC., Gouverneur V., Smith G., Kramer-Marek G.
Targeted radiotherapy with 131I-mIBG, a substrate of the human norepinephrine transporter (NET-1), shows promising responses in heavily pre-treated neuroblastoma (NB) patients. Combinatorial approaches that enhance 131I-mIBG tumour uptake are of substantial clinical interest but biomarkers of response are needed. Here, we investigate the potential of 18F-mFBG, a positron emission tomography (PET) analogue of the 123I-mIBG radiotracer, to quantify NET-1 expression levels in mouse models of NB following treatment with AZD2014, a dual mTOR inhibitor. The response to AZD2014 treatment was evaluated in MYCN amplified NB cell lines (Kelly and SK-N-BE(2)C) by Western blot (WB) and immunohistochemistry. PET quantification of 18F-mFBG uptake post-treatment in vivo was performed, and data correlated with NET-1 protein levels measured ex vivo. Following 72 h AZD2014 treatment, in vitro WB analysis indicated decreased mTOR signalling and enhanced NET-1 expression in both cell lines, and 18F-mFBG revealed a concentration-dependent increase in NET-1 function. AZD2014 treatment failed however to inhibit mTOR signalling in vivo and did not significantly modulate intratumoural NET-1 activity. Image analysis of 18F-mFBG PET data showed correlation to tumour NET-1 protein expression, while further studies are needed to elucidate whether NET-1 upregulation induced by blocking mTOR might be a useful adjunct to 131I-mIBG therapy.