18 F-Labeled perfluorocarbon droplets for positron emission tomography imaging
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INTRODUCTION: Nanoscale perfluorocarbon (PFC) droplets have been used to create imaging agents and drug delivery vehicles. However, development and characterization of new formulations of PFC droplets are hindered because of the lack of simple methods for quantitative and sensitive assessment of whole body tissue distribution and pharmacokinetics of the droplets. To address this issue, a general-purpose method for radiolabeling the inner core of nanoscale perfluorocarbon droplets with a hydrophobic and lipophobic fluorine-18 compound was developed, so that positron emission tomography (PET) and quantitative biodistribution studies can be employed to evaluate PFC nanodroplets in vivo. METHODS: A robust method to produce [18F]CF3(CF2)7(CH2)3F from a tosylate precursor using [18F]F- was developed. The product's effectiveness as a general label for different PFCs and its ability to distinguish the in vivo behavior of different PFC droplet formulations was evaluated using two types of PFC nanodroplets: fluorosurfactant-stabilized perfluorohexane (PFH) nanodroplets and lipid-stabilized perfluorooctylbromide (PFOB) nanodroplets. In vivo assessment of the 18F-labeled PFH and PFOB nanodroplets were conducted in normal mice following intravenous injection using small animal PET imaging and gamma counting of tissues and fluids. RESULTS: [18F]CF3(CF2)7(CH2)3F was produced in modest yield and was stable with respect to loss of fluoride in vitro. The labeled fluorocarbon was successfully integrated into PFH nanodroplets (~175 nm) and PFOB nanodroplets (~260 nm) without altering their mean sizes, size distributions, or surface charges compared to their non-radioactive analogues. No leakage of the radiolabel from the nanodroplets was detected after droplet formation in vitro. PET imaging and biodistribution data for the two droplet types tested showed significantly different tissue uptake and clearance patterns. CONCLUSION: A convenient method for producing 18F-labeled PFC droplets was developed. The results highlight the potential utility of the strategy for pre-clinical evaluation of different PFC droplet formulations through direct PFC core labeling using a fluorinated radiolabel.
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