UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

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Department of Psychiatry

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Cancer Biology | Neoplasms


Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of all male cancer deaths. One of the factors present in malignant prostate cells and shown to support its metastatic growth is the neuropeptide neurotensin (NT). The primary goal of the present study was to establish the feasibility of using a newly developed paramagnetic receptor ligand for NT and non-invasive ultrahigh-field magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to visualize prostate cancer in rodents. Orthotropic xenografts were initiated in six-week old male BALB/c nu/nu athymic mice (n = 28) by intra-prostatic (ventral lobe) inoculation of human prostate cancer cells (10 μL of PC3 cells (10^6/100 μL)). Palpable tumors developed within 30-60 days. A micro-imager utilized in these studies was an actively shielded 9.4T, 89 mm bore, Oxford superconducting magnet with a 100 gauss/cm gradient system. Prior to contrast injection, T2 weighted anatomy scans were done to localize the tumor with a spin-echo multi-slice sequence with TR: 2000 TE: 40 and NEX: 1 in both coronal and axial planes. The paramagnetic ligand data sets were collected with a spin-echo, T1 weighted pulse sequence (MSME): TR 300 msec; TE 5 msec; NEX 4 in both axial and coronal planes. The data sets were taken initially at 5-min intervals post contrast injection for the first half hour and then at 15 min intervals for the next 1.5-2 hours for a time series analyses. The temporal distribution of MR signal intensity in various regions were determined in the absence and presence of NT. Our results confirm that the novel NT molecule was protected from enzymatic degradation and capable of forming a high-affinity paramagnetic NT ligand with an extended half-life. During the imaging studies, the signal intensity increased by 200% in the region of the tumor. This increase in signal intensity approached maximum binding within 30 minutes and remained visible for 1-hour post-injection of the contrast agent. Taken together, these findings suggest that it is feasible to detect and image prostate cancer using a paramagnetic NT ligand and the emergence of the NT receptor ligand that may be used as a diagnostic marker for prostate cancer in humans.


prostate cancer, magnetic resonance imaging, neurotensin, paramagnetic NT ligand, diagnosis, cancer biology, genomics

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bioRxiv 180042; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv service.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License