Skip to main content

Development of new copper-64 labeled rhodamine: a potential PET myocardial perfusion imaging agent

Abstract

Background

Myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI) is one of the most commonly performed investigations in nuclear medicine procedures. Due to the longer half-life of the emerging positron emitter copper-64 and its availability from low energy cyclotron, together with its well-known coordination chemistry, we have synthesized 64Cu-labeled NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates as potential cardiac imaging agents using PET.

Results

64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates were synthesized using a traightforward and one-step simple reaction. Radiochemical yields were greater than 97% (decay corrected), with a total synthesis time of less than 25 min. Radiochemical purities were always greater than 98% as assessed by TLC and HPLC. These synthetic approaches hold considerable promise as a simple method for 64Cu-rhodamine conjugates synthesis, with high radiochemical yield and purity. Biodistribution studies in normal Fischer rats at 60 min post-injection, demonstrated significant heart uptake and a good biodistribution profile for both the radioconjugates. However, the 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate has shown more heart uptake (~ 10% ID/g) over the 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugate (5.6% ID/g).

Conclusions

These results demonstrate that these radioconjugates may be useful probes for the PET evaluation of MPI.

Background

Myocardial Perfusion Imaging (MPI) is a non-invasive procedure to provide a sensitive means for detection, localization, and risk satisfaction of ischemic heart disease, assessment of left ventricular function, and myocardial viability. MPI is one of the most commonly performed investigations in nuclear medicine studies. The most widely used MPI is single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), usually performed using single-photon radiopharmaceuticals, such as 99mTc-MIBI, 99mTc-tetrofosmin, and 201Tl-chloride (Sachdev et al. 1990; Kelly et al. 1993; Maddahi et al. 1994). Unlike SPECT, positron emission tomography (PET) imaging offers several evident advantages of imaging in MPI application including higher spatial resolution, better sensitivity, and an improved attenuation correction. Currently, the used PET radiotracers for MPI studies are [13 N]NH3, [15O]H2O, and 82Rb (Schelbert et al. 1981; Selwyn et al. 1982; Bergmann et al. 1984). The short half-lives of PET tracers, such as 15O (2 min) and 13 N (10 min), and the requirement for an on-site cyclotron for manufacturing these tracers are the main restrictions for their usage. Additionally, 82Sr/82Rb generator is broadly available but it is not an ultimate PET radiotracer because of its high recurring price, very short half-life combined with long positron range that lowers the image resolution. When compared with other PET tracers, fluorine-18 (18F) offers suitable nuclear and chemical properties for PET imaging (Okarvi 2001; Varagnolo et al. 2000). Therefore, various 18F-labeled radiopharmaceuticals for MPI have been prepared and evaluated and some of these new agents have shown better image quality and a better association to true myocardial blood flow than 99mTc-MIBI (Marshall et al. 2004; Madar et al. 2006; Yu et al. 2007; Huisman et al. 2008; Shoup et al. 2011).

It has been shown that the rhodamine dyes are accumulated in mitochondria and take around 30% of the myocardial intracellular volume in the heart (Kronauge et al. 1992). Thus, numerous 18F-rhodamines analogs as potential MPI agents were developed recently (Heinrich et al. 2010; Gottumukkala et al. 2010; Bartholoma et al. 2012). In particular, 18F-labeled rhodamine B diethylene glycol ester ([18F]RhoBDEGF) has provided an excellent image quality and might be a potential PET tracer for MPI studies (Storey et al. 1993). Recently, our group has developed [18F]-FDG-rhodamine, [124I]-SIB-rhodamine, and 68Ga-NOTA-rhodamine conjugates. These radioconjugates have demonstrated a high myocardial uptake and favorable pharmacokinetics which indicate that some of these radioconjugates may be useful for MPI studies (Aljammaz et al. 2014, 2015a, b, 2019).

The cyclotron-produced positron emitter copper-64 (64Cu) together with its 12.7 h half-life and well-known coordination chemistry makes it one of the most attractive radionuclides for PET imaging (McCarthy et al. 1997; Alliot et al. 2011; Szelecsenyi et al. 1993). Therefore, varieties of 64Cu-radiolabeled biomolecules for potential use beyond the measurement of glucose metabolism were developed and investigated (Anderson and Ferdani 2009; Zhang et al. 2013; Sprague et al. 2007; Hao et al. 2009; Evangelista et al. 2013). Among these, 64Cu-labeled DOTA-somatostatin conjugate (64Cu-DOTATATE) has been recently approved by the FDA for the localization of somatostatin receptor-positive neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) in adult patients. For the past several years, we are interested in developing new agents for MPI studies; in this paper, we described the synthesis and initial evaluation of the 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates.

Results

Chemistry

The synthetic methods for the preparation of NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamines are mentioned in Schemes 1 and 2. These conjugates were fully characterized by HPLC and the mass spectral data and agreed with the expected structures. The precursor's NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates were obtained as an off-white precipitate in 60% and 20% yield, respectively. The theoretical calculated molecular masses for NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates were 658 and 628, respectively. These values agreed well with the attained ES-MS [M + 1]+ = 659 and 629, respectively. Chemical purities for NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates were higher than 98% as assessed by HPLC.

Scheme 1
scheme 1

Synthesis of NOTA precursors and 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugate. (i) 1,4,7-Triazacyclononane; (ii) 1,4,7-Triazacyclononane triacetic acid; (iii) N-Succinimidyl-1,4,7-triazacyclononane diacetic acid; (iv) NOTA-rhodamine

Scheme 2
scheme 2

Synthesis of NOTAM precursors and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate. 1,4,7-Triazacyclononane; (2) 1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine (NOTAM); 3) 1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine-N′′-acetic acid; (4) N-Succinimidyl-1,4,7-triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine-N′′-acetic acid; (5) NOTAM-rhodamine

The reference CuII-NOTA- and CuII-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates were obtained as off-white powders with overall chemical yields of ~ 50%, which appear to decompose beyond 180 °C. The calculated molecular masses for CuII-NOTA- and CuII-NOTAM-rhodamine were 720 and 690, respectively. These values were agreed with the attained ES-MS [M + 1]+ = 721 and 691, respectively. Chemical purities of CuII-NOTA- and CuII-NOTAM-rhodamine were higher than 97% as assessed by HPLC with retention times of 11.6 and 13.1 min, respectively.

Radiochemistry

In an attempt to develop novel PET rhodamine tracers for MPI studies with longer half-life and better pharmacokinetics, we have developed 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine for myocardial PET imaging. The synthetic procedure for the preparation of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine provided a facile and simple one-step reaction. Radiochemical yields were quantitative (> 95%) in less than 25 min. Radiochemical purities of these radioconjugates were always greater than 98% as determined by HPLC (Fig. 1) and confirmed by TLC. In the TLC chromatograms, the free copper remained at the origin (Rf: 0–0.15) while the radiolabeled complexes had Rf values of 0.8–0.95 (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1
figure 1

HPLC chromatograms of (A) 64Cu-NOTA- and (B) 64Cu-NOTAM rhodamine conjugates

Fig. 2
figure 2

TLC chromatograms of (A) 64Cu-NOTA- and (B) 64Cu-NOTAM rhodamine conjugates. In the TLC chromatograms, the free copper remained at the origin (Rf: 0–0.15) while the radiolabeled.64Cu-complexes moved to Rf values of 0.8–0.95

In addition, the calculated partition coefficient for 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates were found − 0.57 ± 0.03 and − 0.38 ± 0.04, respectively, representing ~ 41% lower hydrophilic characteristics of the 64Cu-NOTA- as compared to the 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine compound.

Stability in plasma

The proteolytic degradation of the 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine was calculated in human plasma in vitro. HPLC analysis of the plasma samples revealed that the 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine remained highly stable (> 97%) during incubation at 37 °C for at least 4 h, suggesting a high in vitro stability of these radiolabeled bioconjugates.

In vivo Biodistribution

Preliminary biological properties of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine in normal Fischer rats at 60 min p.i. are summarized in Table 1. The results of in vivo biodistribution display rapid and more efficient clearance of 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine from the blood and most of the organs and tissues than 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine. A high accumulation by the kidneys (0.85 ± 0.41% ID/g) and a low uptake in the liver (0.35 ± 0.06% ID/g) for 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine were observed demonstrating that the main route of elimination was the urinary system. Whereas the moderate uptake of 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine showed by the liver, spleen, and kidneys (1.19 ± 0.10, 1.19 ± 0.21, and 0.55 ± 0.08% ID/g, respectively) indicates that the route of excretion was predominantly the hepatobiliary and partly urinary systems.

Table 1 Biodistribution of 64Cu-NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates in normal rats at 60 min post-injection

Additionally, the main target organ heart displayed the highest uptake of 9.50 ± 0.99% ID/g of the 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine, which is higher than the uptake of the 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugate (5.60 ± 1.02% ID/g). Very good heart-to-blood ratios (32.76) and (13.33) were obtained for 64Cu-NOTAM- and 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugates, respectively. Initial Nano-PET imaging studies have clearly delineated the heart uptake of 64Cu-NOTA- 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates with high contrast relative to the background (Fig. 3). These images are concurrent with findings obtained in quantitative biodistribution data reported above.

Fig. 3
figure 3

Coronal, transaxial, and sagittal images of normal rats after 60 min post-injection using (A) 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine and (B) 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates (injected dose 7.4 MBq each)

These results demonstrate that the 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate has better heart uptake than the 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugate. However, the latter may pose suitable pharmacokinetic properties over the former and deserve more evaluation. Furthermore, the radioactivity excreted into the urine at the time of sacrifice (60 min p.i.) was collected and checked by radio-HPLC to investigate the in vivo stability of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine compounds. Radio-HPLC chromatograms of the urine samples displayed that a good amount of radioactivity (> 95%) was still attached to the radiolabeled bioconjugates. These findings show that these radiolabeled bioconjugates are not inclined to fast in vivo degradation and are associated well with the high metabolic stability obtained in human plasma in vitro.

Discussion

In an attempt to develop novel PET rhodamine tracers for MPI studies with longer half-life and better pharmacokinetics, we have developed 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine for myocardial PET imaging. The CuII ion is a 3d9 with coordination numbers ranging from 4 through 6 it has borderline hardness with high affinity to O and N donor atoms. Therefore, derivatives of TACN with two (NOTA, NOTAM) carboxymethyl pendant arms both complex Cu(II) with good affinity. The former has an N3O3 donor set that forms a distorted trigonal prismatic geometry. [CuII NOTA] complex is hexa-coordinated and shows high stability with Log K 21.6. In NOTAM, the presence of more basic donor atoms in the pendant arms has led to an increase in the Log K value of CuII complexes (Log K 22.4) (Baranyai et al. 2020; Clarke et al. 1990; Clarke and Martell 1991a, b; Wadas et al. 2010; Tolmachev et al. 2017). Therefore, to develop new MPI agents, with suitable characteristics for the PET investigation of myocardial perfusion, we have prepared NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamine compounds.

64Cu-Labeled molecules are promising imaging agents for PET due to the favorable nuclear characteristics of the isotope (t1/2 = 12.7 h, β + 17.4%, Emax = 0.656 MeV, β 39%, Emax = 0.573 MeV) and its availability as no-carrier-added Cu-64. The longer physical half-life of 64Cu compared to other PET isotopes enables imaging at delayed time points, which allows sufficient time for clearance from background tissues, resulting in increased image contrast (Banerjee et al. 2014). The synthetic procedure for the preparation of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine provided a facile and simple one-step reaction, with high radiochemical yield and purity.

The results of in vivo biodistribution display rapid and more efficient clearance of 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine from the blood and most of the organs and tissues than 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine. A high accumulation by the kidneys and a low uptake in the liver for 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine were observed indicating that the urinary system is the main excretion pathway. While 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine showed the moderate uptake by the liver, spleen, and kidneys suggesting that the route of excretion was predominantly the hepatobiliary and partly urinary systems. This behavior may be due to the nature of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM as chelating agents and the overall net charge on 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine molecules (Miao et al. 2006). Additionally, the 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine displayed the highest uptake in the main target organ heart which is higher than the uptake of the 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugate. These values are similar to heart uptake values obtained from other radiofluorinated rhodamine conjugates reported previously (Gottumukkala et al. 2010; Bartholoma et al. 2012, 2013; Breeman et al. 2005, 2011) and at least two times better than values obtained using 68Ga-NOTA- and 68Ga-NODAGA-rhodamine conjugates. Additionally, good heart-to-blood ratios of 32.76 for 64Cu-NOTAM and 13.33 for 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugates were obtained. The heart-to-blood ratios of the 64Cu-NOTAM were found to be superior to the values obtained for other rhodamine conjugates, for example, 18F-FDG-rhodamine (28.10) and 68Ga-NOTA-rhodamine (4.56) (Aljammaz et al. 2015a, b, 2019), suggesting the usefulness of the 64Cu-NOTAM. Moreover, initial Nano-PET imaging studies have clearly delineated the heart uptake of 64Cu-NOTA- 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates with high contrast relative to the background (Fig. 3). These images are concurrent with finding obtained in quantitative biodistribution data reported above. The data suggest that the 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate has better heart uptake properties than the 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine conjugate. But, the latter may pose favorable biokinetics over the former and deserve further investigation. Radio-HPLC chromatograms of the urine samples displayed that a good amount of radioactivity was still attached and these radiolabeled bioconjugates are not inclined to fast in vivo degradation. It is worth mentioning here that when these radiolabeled conjugates were investigated in normal Balb/c mice, nearly no accumulation of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine in the mice hearts were found, probably due to the in vivo enzymatic breakdown of these radiotracers in mouse serum (data not shown) as observed previously for other rhodamine compounds in mice (Gottumukkala et al. 2010; Aljammaz et al. 2015a, b). These results indicate that mice may not be suitable animal models for the preclinical evaluation of rhodamine conjugates.

Methods

All chemicals and reagents used in this work were all highest purity grade obtained from commercial sources and were used without further purification unless stated. Acetonitrile (ACN) and dimethylformamide (DMF) were kept over molecular sieves. Sep-Pak cartridges were purchased from Waters-Millipore. Thin-layer chromatography-SG sheets were purchased from Grace Discovery Inc. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis was carried out on Luna; Phenomenex C-18 reversed-phase column (analytical, 250 mm × 4.6 mm). The solvent system used was isocratic (eluant: ACN/H2O, 95/5 with 0.1% TFA at a flow rate of 1.0 mL/min). A Jasco chromatographic system equipped with a variable wavelength ultraviolet monitor and in tandem with a Canberra flow through radioactivity detector was used. Ultraviolet absorption was monitored at 254 nm. Chromatograms were acquired and analyzed using BORWIN software. Elemental analyses were performed on a Perkin Elmer CHN 2400 analyzer. The melting points were measured using a Thomas-Hoover Unimelt capillary melting point apparatus. Mass spectroscopy was performed on Quattra electrospray mass spectrometer.

Chemistry

1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′,N″-triacetic acid-rhodamine conjugate (NOTA-rhodamine, iv)

NOTA-rhodamine conjugate was synthesized utilizing the method reported previously (Aljammaz et al. 2014, 2015a, b). In brief, ethylene diamine-rhodamine conjugate (EDA-rhodamine) was dissolved in DMF. To this, triethylamine (TEA, 2 equivalent) and N-Succinimidyl-1,4,7-triazacyclononane-N,N′,N″-triacetic acid (NOTA-NHS, 1 equivalent) were added. The mixture was shielded from light and stirred at 70 °C for 1 h. The ACN was then added to precipitate the product which was filtered and washed a few times with ACN and dried under vacuum to provide an off-white precipitate compound (Scheme 1). Yield = 57%; Mp = 122–125 °C. C34H40N7O7 = MW 658.7

1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine (NOTAM, 3)

NOTAM was synthesized by dissolving hydrochloric acid salt of 1,4,7-triazacyclononane (TACN. HCl, 500 mg, 2.1 mmol) in ACN (10 mL) followed by the addition of triethylamine (TEA, 1.16 mL, 8.4 mmol) (Scheme 2). To the stirred mixture, bromoethylamine protected with BOC group (430 mg, 2.1 mmol) in ACN (4 mL) was added and the reaction mixture was then stirred and refluxed for 2 h. The solution was concentrated by rotary evaporation to leave a light yellowish solid product which was washed with ACN (10 mL) to leave a yellowish precipitate. This was then filtered, washed with ACN (10 mL), and dissolved in CH2Cl2/TFA (1:1, 10 mL) before stirring at room temperature for 30 min for deprotection. The mixture was then dried in vacuo to yield 258 mg (57.1%) of NOTAM as a yellow oily material.C10H25N5 = MW 215.3.

1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine-N′′-acetic acid (NOTAM-AcOH, 4)

NOTAM (348 mg, 1.42 mmol) was dissolved in ACN (10 mL) followed by the addition of TEA (0.4 mL, 1.42 mmol). To the stirred mixture, bromoacetic acid (BAA, 0.2 g, 1.42 mmol) in ACN (3 mL) was added drop-wise over 5 min. The reaction mixture was then stirred and refluxed for 3 h. The brown solution was concentrated by rotary evaporation to leave a brown solid product which was washed with ACN (8 mL) to leave a creamy precipitate. The off-white precipitate was then filtered, washed with ACN (10 mL), and dried in vacuo to yield 232 mg (59.8%) of NOTAM as an oily material. C12H25N2O2 = MW 273.3.

N-Succinimidyl-1,4,7-triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine-N′′-acetic acid (NOTAM-NHS, 5)

The oily material (120 mg, 0.39 mmol) was dissolved in ACN (6 mL) followed by the addition of NHS (43 mg, 0.39 mmol) and DCC (85 mg, 0.39 mmol). The reaction mixture was stirred at ambient temperature for 3 h. The by-product dicyclohexylurea was then removed by filtration and the filtrate was dried by rotary evaporation to furnish 105 mg (72.7%) of NOTAM-NHS as an oily product. C16H29N6O4 = MW 370.

1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′-diethylamine-N′′-rhodamine (NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate, 6)

For the synthesis of the NOTAM-rhodamine, EDA-rhodamine conjugate (0.15 mmol) in DMF was mixed with TEA (0.30 mmol) and NOTAM-NHS (0.15 mmol). The reaction mixture was allowed to be stirred in dark for 60 min at 70o C. Acetonitrile was added to precipitate the product which was filtered, and washed a few times with ACN. The product was dried under a vacuum to give an off-white precipitate compound. Yield 26%; Mp = 108–110 °C. C34H46N9O3 = MW 628.70.

Reference CuII-compounds (CuII-NOTA- and CuII-NOTAM-rhodamines)

The Cu-NOTA- and Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine reference compounds were prepared following the procedure reported previously (Aljammaz et al. 2019). In brief, NOTA (5 mg, 7.6 µmol) and NOTAM-rhodamine (5 mg, 7.0 µmol) were allowed to react with an equimolar amount of copper chloride (CuCl2) in 0.1% acetic acid in EtOH, 500 µL, pH ~ 4.5) at 95 °C for 30 min. Acetonitrile was added to precipitate the reference compounds which were filtered and washed a few times with ACN. After centrifugation, the compounds were washed a few times and dried under a vacuum to yield products like the yellow powders.

Radiochemistry

64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine compounds

64CuCl2 was produced by the bombardment of nickel-64 target (64Ni, 100 mg ± 10%) for 2 h with 15.5 MeV protons and 100 μA beam current from the Cyclon-30 (IBA) using the 64Ni(p,n)64Cu nuclear reaction. The irradiated target was dissolved in hydrochloric acid (HCl, 9 M, 8–10 mL) followed by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2, 0.15 × 1 mL, 30%) with continuous heating (80o C). The dissolved nickel target was transferred in a bottle (150 mL) followed by complete drying then HCl (6 N, 10 mL) was added and passed through an anion exchange column cartridge (TK201, 2 mL) which was preconditioned with HCl (6 M, 5 mL). TK201 cartridge was rinsed with HCl (6 M, 5 mL) to remove traces of 64Ni followed by rinsing with HCl (4.5 M, 5 mL) to remove traces of cobalt isotopes. 64CuCl2 was then eluted with HCl (0.5 M, 10 mL).

The synthetic approach for the preparation of 64Cu-NOTA- and -NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates was straightforward. 64CuCl2 solution (185–370 MBq) was reacted in sealed vials with NOTA- and NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate separately (50 µg each) in sodium acetate buffer (NaOAc, 5 M, pH ~ 4.5, 1.0 mL) at 95 °C for 30 min (Schemes 1, 2). The reaction mixtures were diluted with H2O (3 mL), passed through the C18 Sep-Pak cartridge, dried, and finally eluted with ethanol (EtOH, 5 mL). EtOH was then evaporated and the residue was reconstituted with normal saline before passing through a 0.22 μm pore membrane filter for in vitro and in vivo experiments.

Partition Coefficient

The partition coefficient of 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates (100 µL, 0.74 MBq each) was determined following the procedure reported previously (Aljammaz et al. 2019). The partition coefficient 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates was determined by the function: Log10 (counts in the octanol layer/counts in the aqueous layer).

Stability in plasma

64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine complexes (0.74 MBq, 100 µL each) were incubated with plasma (200 µL) in duplicate at 37 °C for 2 h. After incubation, proteins were precipitated by ACN/EtOH (400 µL, 1/1 v/v) and centrifuged at 5000 rpm for 5 min. The supernatant phase was filtered and assessed by HPLC following the conditions mentioned above.

In vivo biodistribution

Animal studies were conducted strictly according to the international regulations and guidelines governing the safe and proper use of laboratory animals. The biodistribution was carried out in normal Fischer male rats (body weight 50–70 g) to determine the in vivo distribution behavior of the 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates. 100 µL of the radiotracers formulated in saline were injected via the lateral tail vein of rats. Each injected dose contained ~ 2.59 MBq of radioactivity. Rats were sacrificed after 1 h post-injection (p.i.) and tissues/organs of interest were dissected, weighed, and counted for radioactivity. The percent of the injected dose per gram (% ID/g) was measured by counting all tissues in a γ-counter.

In vivo nano PET/CT imaging

The PET/CT scans were performed using a preclinical NanoPET/CT scanner (Mediso, Hungary) on normal Fischer male rats (body mass 50–75 g). 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugates (100 μL, 7.4 MBq) were injected into each rat through the tail vein and placed in the NanoPET/CT scanner with continuous O2 and 2% isoflurane supply. 20 min post tail vein injection of the radiotracers, the rats were imaged for 20 min PET/CT acquisition time. A static scan was acquired at 60 min p.i. The CT scan was performed using the following parameters: X-ray voltage = 50 kVp, Exposure time = 300 ms. A total projection of 288 projects over 360° of rotation was acquired and reconstructed using a cosine filter. This was followed by a PET data acquisition with the following parameters: 5-ns coincidence window and 400–600 keV energy window in 1–5 coincidence mode. Crystal efficiency correction was also applied, with a ring difference of 8, and the images were reconstructed by a three-dimensional ordered-subsets; exception maximum algorithm (subsets, 4; iterations, 6). The pixel size was 0.3 mm. The acquired data in these studies were analyzed by InterVeiw FUSION software developed by Mediso.

Statistical analysis

Data are expressed as mean ± S.D. where appropriate. For data comparisons, a Student’s t test was performed on the mean values using Graph-Pad Software (Graph-Pad Software Inc., San Diego, CA, USA). A probability value of P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Conclusion

In a suitable radiosynthesis approach, 64Cu-NOTA- and 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine compounds were prepared in high radiochemical yields and purities in about 25 min. Preliminary biodistribution in normal Fischer rats at 60 min p.i, exhibited a higher myocardial uptake of 64Cu-NOTAM-rhodamine conjugate over the 64Cu-NOTA-rhodamine. The data suggest that these radioconjugates may be suitable for MPI studies using PET. However, further evaluation is needed.

Availability of data and materials

The data associated with this research work are available in this manuscript or upon request from the corresponding author.

Abbreviations

MPI:

Myocardial perfusion imaging

NOTA:

1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′,N″-triacetic acid

NOTAM:

1,4,7-Triazacyclononane-N,N′,diethylamine

PET:

Positron emission tomography

SPECT:

Single-photon emission computed tomography

18F:

Fluorine-18

ACN:

Acetonitrile

DMF:

Dimethylformamide

EtOH:

Ethanol

HPLC:

High-performance liquid chromatography

TLC:

Thin-layer chromatography

References

  • AlJammaz I, Al-Otaibi B, Amer S, Al-Hokbany N, Okarvi S. Development and preclinical evaluation of new 68Ga-NOTA-folate conjugates for PET imaging of folate receptor-positive tumors. Anticancer Res. 2014;34:6745–56.

    Google Scholar 

  • AlJammaz I, Al-Otaibi B, Al-Yanbawi S, Al-Rumayan F, Okarvi S. Synthesis of novel I-124 labeled rhodamine: a potential PET myocardial perfusion imaging agent. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2015a;42(Suppl 1):S501.

    Google Scholar 

  • AlJammaz I, Al-Otaibi B, AlHindas H, Okarvi S. Novel synthesis and initial preclinical evaluation of 18F-[FDG] labeled rhodamine: a potential PET myocardial perfusion imaging agent. J Nucl Med Biol. 2015b;42:804–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • AlJammaz I, Al-Otaibi B, Al-Hokbani N, Okarvi SM. Synthesis of novel gallium-68 labeled rhodamine: a potential PET myocardial perfusion agent. Appl Radiat Isot. 2019;144:29–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alliot C, Michel N, Bonraisin A-C, et al. One step purification process for no-carrier-added 64Cu produced using enriched nickel target. Radiochim Acta. 2011;99(10):627–30.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Anderson CJ, Ferdani R. Copper-64 radiopharmaceuticals for PET imaging of cancer: advances in preclinical and clinical research. Cancer Biother Radiopharm. 2009;24(4):379–93.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Banerjee SR, Pullambhatla M, Foss CA, Nimmagadda S, et al. 64Cu-labeled inhibitors of prostate-specific membrane antigen for PET imaging of prostate cancer. J Med Chem. 2014;57:2657–69.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Baranyai Z, Tircsó G, Rösch F. The use of the macrocyclic chelator DOTA in radiochemical separations. Eur J Inorg Chem. 2020;2020:36–56. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejic.201900706

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bartholoma MD, Gottumukkala V, Zhang S, Baker A, Dunning P, Fahey FH, Treves ST, Packard AB. Effect of the prosthetic group on the pharmacologic properties of 18F-labeled rhodamine B, a potential myocardial perfusion agent for positron emission tomography (PET). J Med Chem. 2012;55:11004–12.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bartholoma MD, He H, Pacak CA, Dunning P, Fahey FH, McGowan FX, Cowan DB, Treves ST, Packard AB. Biological characterization of F-18-labeled rhodamine B, a potential positron emission tomography perfusion tracer. Nucl Med Biol. 2013;40:1043–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Bergmann SR, Fox KA, Rand AL, McElvany KD, Welch MJ, Markham J, Burton ES. Quantification of regional myocardial blood flow in vivo with H215O. Circulation. 1984;70:724–33.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Breeman WA, DeJong M, DeBlois E, Bernard BF, Konijnenberg M, Krenning EP. Radiolabelling DOTA-peptides with 68Ga. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2005;32:478–85.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Breeman W, DeBlois E, Sze-Chan H, Konijnenberg M, Kwekkeboom D, Krenning E. 68Ga-labeled DOTA-peptides and 68Ga-labeled radiopharmaceuticals for positron emission tomography: current status of research, clinical applications, and future perspectives. Semin Nucl Med. 2011;41:314–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Clarke ET, Martell AE. Stabilities of the Fe(III), Ga(III) and In(III) chelates of N, N’, N’’-triazacyclononanetricaetic acid. Inorg Chim Acta. 1991a;181:273–80.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Clarke ET, Martell AE. Stabilities of trivalent metal ion complexes of the tetraacetate derivatives of 12-, 13- and 14-membered tetraazamacrocycles. Inorg Chim Acta. 1991b;190:37–46.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Evangelista L, Mansi L, Cascini GL. New issues for copper-64: from precursor to innovative pet tracers in clinical oncology. Curr Radiopharm. 2013;6(3):117–23.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gottumukkala V, Heinrich TK, Baker A, Dunning P, Fahey FH, Treves ST, Packard AB. Biodistribution and stability studies of [18F]fluoroethylrhodamine B, a potential PET myocardial perfusion agent. Nucl Med Biol. 2010;37:365–70.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hao G, Fukumura T, Nakao R, et al. Cation exchange separation of 61Cu2+ from Co nat targets and preparation of 61Cu-DOTA-HSA as a blood pool agent. Appl Radiat Isot. 2009;67(4):511–5.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Heinrich TK, Gottumukkala V, Snay E, Dunning P, Fahey FH, Treves ST, Packard AB. Synthesis of fluorine-18 labeled rhodamine B: a potential PET myocardial perfusion imaging agent. Appl Radiat Isot. 2010;68:96–100.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Huisman MC, Higuchi T, Reder S, Nekolla SG, Poethko T, Wester HJ, Ziegler SI, Casebier DS, Robinson SP, Schwaiger M. Initial characterization of an 18F-labeled myocardial perfusion tracer. J Nucl Med. 2008;49:630–6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly JD, Forster AM, Higley B, Archer CM, Booker FS, Canning LR, Chiu FW, Edwards B, Gill HK, McPartlin M, Nagle KR, Latham IA, Pickett RD. Technetium-99m-tetrofosmin as a new radiopharmaceutical for myocardial perfusion imaging. J Nuc Med. 1993;34:222–7.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kronauge JF, Chiu ML, Cone JS, Davison A, Holman BL, Jones AG, Det PW. Comparison of neutral and cationic myocardial perfusion agents: characteristics of accumulation in cultured cells. Int J Rad Appl Instrum B. 1992;19:141–8.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Madar I, Ravert HT, Du Y, Hilton J, Volokh L, Dannals RF, Frost JJ, Hare JM. Characterization of uptake of the new PET imaging compound 18F-fluorobenzyl triphenyl phosphonium in dog myocardium. J Nucl Med. 2006;47:1359–66.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Maddahi J, Schelbert H, Brunken R, Di Carli M. Role of Thallium-201and PET imaging in evaluation of myocardial viability and management of patients with coronary artery disease and left ventricular dysfunction. J Nucl Med. 1994;35:707–15.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Marshall RC, Powers-Risius P, Reutter BW, O’Neil JP, Belle ML, Huesman RH, VanBrocklin HF. Kinetic analysis of 18F-fluorodihydrorotenone as a deposited myocardial flow tracer: comparison to 201Tl. J Nucl Med. 2004;45:1950–9.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • McCarthy DW, Shefer RE, Klinkowstein RE, et al. Efficient production of high-specific-activity 64Cu using a biomedical cyclotron. Nucl Med Biol. 1997;24(1):35–43.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Miao Y, Fisher D, Quinn T. Reducing renal uptake of 90Y- and 177Lu-labeled alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone peptide analogues. Nucl Med Biol. 2006;33:723–33.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Okarvi SM. Recent progress in fluorine-18 labelled peptide radiopharmaceuticals. Eur J Nucl Med. 2001;28:929–38.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Sachdev SS, Ramamoorthy N, Nayak UN. Preparation and evaluation of 99mTc-t-butylisonitrile (99mTc-TBI) for myocardial imaging: a kit for hospital radiopharmacy. Int J Rad Appl Instrum B. 1990;17:543–52.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Schelbert HR, Phelps ME, Huang SC, MacDonald NS, Hansen H, Selin C, Kuhl DE. N-13 ammonia as an indicator of myocardial blood flow. Circulation. 1981;63:1259–72.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Selwyn AP, Allan RM, L’Abbate A, Horlock P, Camici P, Clark J, O’Brien HA, Grant PM. Relation between regional myocardial uptake of rubidium-82 and perfusion: absolute reduction of cation uptake in ischemia. Am J Cardiol. 1982;50:112–21.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Shoup TM, Elmaleh D, Brownell AL, Zhu A, Guerrero J, Fischman A. Evaluation of (4-[18F]fluorophenyl)triphenylphosphonium ion: a potential myocardial blood flow agent for PET. Mol Imaging Biol. 2011;13:511–7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sprague JE, Kitaura H, Zou W, et al. Noninvasive imaging of osteoclasts in parathyroid hormone-induced osteolysis using a 64Cu-labeled RGD peptide. J Nucl Med. 2007;48(2):311–8.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Storey AE, Webbon PM, Kelly JD, Forster AM, Higley Brian, Archer CM, Booker FS, Canning LR, Chiu KW, Edwards B, Gill HK, McPartlin Mary, Nagle KR, Latham IA, Pickett RD (1993) Technetium-99m-tetrofosmin as a new radiopharmaceutical for myocardial perfusion imaging. J Nucl Med 34(2)

  • Szelecsenyi F, Blessing G, Qaim SM. Excitation functions of proton induced nuclear reactions on enriched 61Ni and 64Ni: possibility of production of No-carrier-added 61Cu and 64Cu at a small cyclotron. Appl Radiat Isot. 1993;44(3):575–80.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Tolmachev V, Yim C, Rajander J, Perols A, Karlström A, Haaparanta-Solin M, Grönroos TJ, Solin O, Orlova A. Comparative evaluation of Anti-HER2 affibody molecules labeled with 64Cu using NOTA and NODAGA. Contrast Media Mol Imaging. 2017;2017:8565802. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/8565802

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Varagnolo L, Stokkel MP, Mazzi U, Pauwels EK. 18F-Labeled radiopharmaceuticals for PET in oncology, excluding FDG. Nucl Med Biol. 2000;27:103–12.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Wadas TJ, Wong EH, Weisman GR, Anderson CJ. Coordinating radiometals of copper, gallium, indium, yttrium and zirconium for PET and SPECT imaging of disease. Chem Rev. 2010;110(5):2858–902.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Yu M, Guaraldi M, Mistry M, Kagan M, McDonald JL, Drew K, Radeke H, Azure M, Purohit A, Casebier DS, Robinson SP. A novel PET myocardial perfusion imaging agent. J Nucl Cardiol. 2007;14:789–98.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang Y, Hong H, Orbay H, et al. PET imaging of CD105/endoglin expression with a 61/64Cu-labeled Fab antibody fragment. Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging. 2013;40(5):759–67.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

This project was supported by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology KACST-National Plan Project No. (11-MED1761-02). Also, supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center (RAC # 20200002).

Funding

This work was funded by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology KACST-National Plan Project No. (11-MED1761-02).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

IJ and SMO contributed to the design of the study and oversaw the research project. NH, YM, and BA carried out the chemistry and radiochemistry experiments and analyzed the results. NH and BJ were involved in the radiochemistry aspect of this work. IJ and SMO wrote and revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Norah AlHokbany.

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate

The animal experiments were conducted according to the approved protocols made by the Animal Care and Use Committee (ACUC) of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre for the safe and proper use of experimental animals (ACUC Approval Number, RAC: 2200049). Animal studies were conducted strictly according to the international regulations and guidelines governing the safe and proper use of laboratory animals.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

AlHokbany, N., AlJammaz, I., AlOtaibi, B. et al. Development of new copper-64 labeled rhodamine: a potential PET myocardial perfusion imaging agent. EJNMMI radiopharm. chem. 7, 19 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41181-022-00171-2

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s41181-022-00171-2

Keywords

  • Copper-64
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Rhodamine
  • Myocardial perfusion imaging
  • Radiopharmaceuticals