89Zr-Immuno-PET with Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors: Measuring Target Engagement in Healthy Organs


89Zr-immuno-PET (positron emission tomography with zirconium-89-labeled monoclonal antibodies ([89Zr]Zr-mAbs)) can be used to study the biodistribution of mAbs targeting the immune system. The measured uptake consists of target-specific and non-specific components, and it can be influenced by plasma availability of the tracer. To find evidence for target-specific uptake, i.e., target engagement, we studied five immune-checkpoint-targeting [89Zr]Zr-mAbs to (1) compare the uptake with previously reported baseline values for non-specific organ uptake (ns-baseline) and (2) look for saturation effects of increasing mass doses. Method: 89Zr-immuno-PET data from five [89Zr]Zr-mAbs, i.e., nivolumab and pembrolizumab (anti-PD-1), durvalumab (anti-PD-L1), BI 754,111 (anti-LAG-3), and ipilimumab (anti-CTLA-4), were analysed. For each mAb, 2–3 different mass doses were evaluated. PET scans and blood samples from at least two time points 24 h post injection were available. In 35 patients, brain, kidneys, liver, spleen, lungs, and bone marrow were delineated. Patlak analysis was used to account for differences in plasma activity concentration and to quantify irreversible uptake (Ki). To identify target engagement, Ki  values were compared to nsbaseline Ki values previously reported, and the effect of increasing mass doses on Ki was investigated. Results: All mAbs, except ipilimumab, showed Ki values in spleen above the ns-baseline for the lowest administered mass dose, in addition to decreasing Ki values with higher mass doses, both indicative of target engagement. For bone marrow, no ns-baseline was established previously, but a similar pattern was observed. For kidneys, most mAbs showed Ki values within the ns-baseline for both low and high mass doses. However, with high mass doses, some saturation effects were seen, suggestive of a lower ns-baseline value. Ki values were near zero in brain tissue for all mass doses of all mAbs. Conclusion: Using Patlak analysis and the established ns-baseline values, evidence for target engagement in (lymphoid) organs for several immune checkpoint inhibitors could be demonstrated. A decrease in the Ki values with increasing mass doses supports the applicability of Patlak analysis for the assessment of target engagement for PET ligands with irreversible uptake behavior.


Miedema, Iris; Wijngaarden, Jessica;  Pouw, Johanna; Zwezerijnen, Gerben JC; Sebus, Hylke J; Smit, Egbert; de Langen, Adrianus J; Bahce, Idris; Thiele, Andre; Vugts, Danielle J; Boellaard, Ronald; Huisman, Marc C.; Menke-van der Houven van Oordt, Willemien C

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