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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13550-017-0280-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Recently, 18F-tetrafluoroborate (TFB) was used as a substrate for the human sodium/iodide symporter (hNIS) reporter gene. This study evaluated the feasibility of performing molecular-genetic imaging by using the new radiotracer (18F-TFB) for the hNIS gene, to track dendritic cell (DC) migration in live mice. A murine dendritic cell line (DC2.4) co-expressing the hNIS and effluc genes (DC/NF) was established. To confirm the functional cellular expression of both effluc and NIS in the inoculated DC/NF cells by bio-medical imaging, combined bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and 18F-TFB positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging was performed after intramuscular injection with parental DCs and DC/NF cells. For DC-tracking, parental DCs or DC/NF cells were injected in the left or right mouse footpad, respectively, and 18F-TFB PET/CT and BLI were performed to monitor these cells in live mice.
In vivo PET/CT and BLI showed a clear signal in DC/NF injection sites but not in parental DC injection sites. The signal intensity in DC/NF cells was correlated with time. In vivo 18F-TFB PET/CT imaging showed higher radiotracer activity in the draining popliteal lymph nodes (DPLNs) in DC/NF injection sites than those in DC injection sites on day 2. BLI also showed DC/NF cell migration to the DPLNs on day 2 after the injection.
Migration of DCs to the lymph nodes was successfully monitored using 18F-TFB PET/CT imaging of the NIS gene and optical imaging of the effluc gene in live mice. These data support the feasibility of using 18F-TFB as a substrate for hNIS reporter gene imaging to track the migration of DCs to the lymph nodes in live animals. The use of 18F-TFB may facilitate enhanced PET imaging of the hNIS reporter gene in small animals and humans in future studies.