To determine the binding specificity of 18F-16α-17β-fluoroestradiol (FES) in estrogen receptor (ER) α–positive breast cancer cells and tumor xenografts.
Materials and Methods
Protocols were approved by the office of biologic safety and institutional animal care and use committee. By using ER-negative MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, clonal lines were created that expressed either wild-type (WT; 231 WT ER) or G521R mutant ERα (231 G521R ER), which is defective in estradiol binding. ERα protein levels, subcellular localization, and transcriptional function were confirmed. FES binding was measured by using an in vitro cell uptake assay. In vivo FES uptake was measured in tumor xenografts by using small-animal positron emission tomographic/computed tomographic imaging of 24 mice (17 WT ER tumors, nine mutant G521R ER tumors, eight MDA-MB-231 tumors, and four MCF-7 ER-positive tumors). Statistical significance was determined by using Mann-Whitney (Wilcoxon rank sum) test.
ERα transcriptional function was abolished in the mutated 231 G521R ER cells despite appropriate receptor protein expression and nuclear localization. In vitro FES binding in the 231 G521R ER cells was reduced to that observed in the parental cells. Similarly, there was no significant FES uptake in the 231 G521R ER xenografts (percent injected dose [ID] per gram, 0.49 ± 0.042), which was similar to the negative control MDA-MB-231 xenografts (percent ID per gram, 0.42 ± 0.051; P = .20) and nonspecific muscle uptake (percent ID per gram, 0.41 ± 0.0095; P = .06).
This study showed that FES retention in ER-positive breast cancer is strictly dependent on an intact receptor ligand-binding pocket and that FES binds to ERα with high specificity. These results support the utility of FES imaging for assessing tumor heterogeneity by localizing immunohistochemically ER-positive metastases that lack receptor-binding functionality.
© RSNA, 2017
Online supplemental material is available for this article.