School of Health Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
The integrin family is a group of transmembrane glycoprotein comprised of 19 α- and 8 β-subunits that are expressed in 25 different α/β heterodimeric combinations on the cell surface. Integrins play critical roles in many physiological processes, including cell attachment, proliferation, bone remodeling, and wound healing. Integrins also contribute to pathological events such as thrombosis, atherosclerosis, tumor invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis, infection by pathogenic microorganisms, and immune dysfunction. Among 25 members of the integrin family, the αvβ3 is studied most extensively for its role of tumor growth, progression and angiogenesis. In contrast, the αIIbβ3 is expressed exclusively on platelets, facilitates the intercellular bidirectional signaling (“inside-out” and “outside-in”) and allows the aggregation of platelets during vascular injury. The αIIbβ3 plays an important role in thrombosis by its activation and binding to fibrinogen especially in arterial thrombosis due to the high blood flow rate. In the resting state, the αIIbβ3 on platelets does not bind to fibrinogen; on activation, the conformation of platelet is altered and the binding sites of αIIbβ3 are exposed for fibrinogen to crosslink platelets. Over the last two decades, integrins have been proposed as the molecular targets for diagnosis and therapy of cancer, thrombosis and other diseases. Several excellent review articles have appeared recently to cover a broad range of topics related to the integrin-targeted radiotracers and their nuclear medicine applications in tumor imaging by single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) or a positron-emitting radionuclide for positron emission tomography (PET). This review will focus on recent developments of αvβ3-targeted radiotracers for imaging tumors and the use of αIIbβ3-targeted radiotracers for thrombosis imaging, and discuss different approaches to maximize the targeting capability of cyclic RGD peptides and improve the radiotracer excretion kinetics from non-cancerous organs. Improvement of target uptake and target-to-background ratios is critically important for target-specific radiotracers.
Keywords: Integrin αvβ3, Integrin αIIbβ3, cyclic RGD peptides, tumor, thrombosis, SPECT.