Theranostics 2020; 10(24):11127-11143. doi:10.7150/thno.47448

Research Paper

Noninvasive assessment and therapeutic monitoring of drug-resistant colorectal cancer by MR molecular imaging of extradomain-B fibronectin

Amita Vaidya1, Nadia Ayat1, Megan Buford1, Helen Wang1, Aman Shankardass1, Yiqing Zhao2, Hannah Gilmore3, Zhenghe Wang2,4, Zheng-Rong Lu1,4✉

1. Department of Biomedical Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.
2. Department of Genetics and Genome Sciences, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.
3. Department of Pathology, University Hospitals of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.
4. Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). See http://ivyspring.com/terms for full terms and conditions.
Citation:
Vaidya A, Ayat N, Buford M, Wang H, Shankardass A, Zhao Y, Gilmore H, Wang Z, Lu ZR. Noninvasive assessment and therapeutic monitoring of drug-resistant colorectal cancer by MR molecular imaging of extradomain-B fibronectin. Theranostics 2020; 10(24):11127-11143. doi:10.7150/thno.47448. Available from http://www.thno.org/v10p11127.htm

File import instruction

Abstract

Antineoplastic resistance represents a multifaceted challenge for cancer therapy and diagnostics. Extensive molecular heterogeneity, even within neoplasms of the same type, can elicit distinct outcomes of administering therapeutic pressures, frequently leading to the development of drug-resistant populations. Improved success of oncotherapies merits the exploration of precise molecular imaging technologies that can detect not only anatomical but also molecular changes in tumors and their microenvironment, early on in the treatment regimen. To this end, we developed magnetic resonance molecular imaging (MRMI) strategies to target the extracellular matrix oncoprotein, extradomain-B fibronectin (EDB-FN), for non-invasive assessment and therapeutic monitoring of drug-resistant colorectal cancer (CRC).

Methods: Two drug-resistant CRC lines generated from parent DLD-1 and RKO cells by long-term treatment with 5ʹ-FU and 5ʹ-FU plus CB-839 respectively, were characterized for functional and gene expression changes using 3D culture, transwell invasion, qRT-PCR, and western blot assays. Contrast-enhanced MRMI of EDB-FN was performed in athymic nu/nu mice bearing subcutaneous tumor xenografts with 40 µmol/kg dose of macrocyclic ZD2-targeted contrast agent MT218 [ZD2-N3-Gd (HP-DO3A)] on a 3T MRS 3000 scanner. Immunohistochemistry was conducted on patient specimens and xenografts using anti-EDB-FN antibody G4.

Results: Analyses of TCGA and GTEx databases revealed poor prognosis of colon cancer patients with higher levels of EDB-FN. Similarly, immunohistochemical staining of patient specimens showed increased EDB-FN expression in primary colon adenocarcinoma and hepatic metastases, but none in normal adjacent tissues. Drug-resistant DLD1-DR and RKO-DR cells were also found to demonstrate enhanced invasive potential and significantly elevated EDB-FN expression over their parent counterparts. MRMI of EDB-FN with 40 µmol/kg dose of MT218 (60% lower than the clinical dose) resulted in robust signal enhancement in the drug-resistant CRC xenografts with 84-120% increase in their contrast-to-noise ratios (CNRs) over the non-resistant counterparts. The feasibility of non-invasive therapeutic monitoring using MRMI of EDB-FN was also evaluated in drug-resistant DLD1-DR tumors treated with a pan-AKT inhibitor MK2206-HCl. The treated drug-resistant tumors failed to respond to therapy, which was accurately detected by MRMI with MT218, demonstrating higher signal enhancement and increased CNRs in the 4-week follow-up scans over the pre-treatment scans.

Conclusions: EDB-FN is a promising molecular marker for assessing drug resistance. MRMI of EDB-FN with MT218 at a significantly reduced dose can facilitate effective non-invasive assessment and treatment response monitoring of drug-resistant CRC, highlighting its translational potential for active surveillance and management of CRC and other malignancies.

Keywords: drug resistance, colorectal cancer, MRMI, therapeutic monitoring, EDB-FN.