Hybrid imaging labels: Providing the link between mass spectrometry-based molecular pathology and theranostics

Tessa Buckle*, Steffen Van Der Wal, Stijn J.M. Van Malderen, Larissa Müller, Joeri Kuil, Vincent Van Unen, Ruud J.B. Peters, Greet van Bemmel, Liam A. McDonnell, Aldrik H. Velders, Frits Koning, Frank Vanhaeke, Fijs W.B. Van Leeuwen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Development of theranostic concepts that include inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS) imaging can be hindered by the lack of a direct comparison to more standardly used methods for in vitro and in vivo evaluation; e.g. fluorescence or nuclear medicine. In this study a bimodal (or rather, hybrid) tracer that contains both a fluorescent dye and a chelate was used to evaluate the existence of a direct link between mass spectrometry (MS) and in vitro and in vivo molecular imaging findings using fluorescence and radioisotopes. At the same time, the hybrid label was used to determine whether the use of a single isotope label would allow for MS-based diagnostics. Methods: A hybrid label that contained both a DTPA chelate (that was coordinated with either 165Ho or 111In) and a Cy5 fluorescent dye was coupled to the chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) targeting peptide Ac-TZ14011 (hybrid-Cy5-Ac-TZ4011). This receptor targeting tracer was used to 1) validate the efficacy of (165Ho-based) mass-cytometry in determining the receptor affinity via comparison with fluorescence-based flow cytometry (Cy5), 2) evaluate the microscopic binding pattern of the tracer in tumor cells using both fluorescence confocal imaging (Cy5) and LA-ICP-MS-imaging (165Ho), 3) compare in vivo biodistribution patterns obtained with ICP-MS (165Ho) and radiodetection (111In) after intravenous administration of hybrid-Cy5-Ac-TZ4011 in tumor-bearing mice. Finally, LA-ICP-MS-imaging (165Ho) was linked to fluorescence-based analysis of excised tissue samples (Cy5). Results: Analysis with both mass-cytometry and flow cytometry revealed a similar receptor affinity, respectively 352 ± 141 nM and 245 ± 65 nM (p = 0.08), but with a much lower detection sensitivity for the first modality. In vitro LA-ICP-MS imaging (165Ho) enabled clear discrimination between CXCR4 positive and negative cells, but fluorescence microscopy was required to determine the intracellular distribution. In vivo biodistribution patterns obtained with ICP-MS (165Ho) and radiodetection (111In) of the hybrid peptide were shown to be similar. Assessment of tracer distribution in excised tissues revealed the location of tracer uptake with both LA-ICP-MS-imaging and fluorescence imaging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-633
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Bimodal
  • Fluorescence
  • LA-ICP-MS imaging
  • Mass cytometry
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Molecular imaging
  • Molecular pathology
  • Radioisotopes


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