Evaluation of l-1-[18F]Fluoroethyl-Tryptophan for PET Imaging of Cancer

Yangchun Xin, Xiaofei Gao, Li Liu, Woo Ping Ge, Manoj K. Jain, Hancheng Cai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose: Fluorine-18 labeled tryptophan analog l-1-[18F]fluoroethyl-tryptophan (l-1-[18F]FETrp) was designed for positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of cancer by dual targeting of the overexpressed amino acid transporters and altered indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO)-mediated kynurenine pathway of tryptophan metabolism. In our previous study, we described the radiosynthesis and preliminary evaluation of l-1-[18F]FETrp for PET imaging of breast cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the in vivo imaging mechanism and further evaluate this radiotracer in more wide range types of cancers including prostate cancer, lung cancer, and glioma. Procedures: The mice bearing subcutaneous PC-3 prostate cancer, subcutaneous H2009 and H460 lung cancers, subcutaneous MDA-MB-231, orthotopic A549 lung cancer, and intracranial 73C glioma were employed to evaluate l-1-[18F]FETrp for PET imaging of cancer. The in vivo catabolism of l-1-[18F]FETrp in the tumor was studied by analysis of PC-3 extracts with radio-HPLC. Results: Small animal PET/CT imaging of l-1-[18F]FETrp visualized all tumors in these different mouse models with high accumulations of radioactivity in PC-3 (7.5 ± 0.6 % ID/g), H2009 (5.3 ± 0.8 % ID/g), H460 (9.0 ± 1.4 % ID/g), A549 (4.5 ± 0.5 % ID/g), and 73C (4.1 ± 0.7 % ID/g) tumors. The radio-HPLC analysis of PC-3 tumor extracts revealed that about 30 % of l-1-[18F]FETrp was converted into a highly polar radioactive metabolite. The uptake in H460 cancer was about 1.7-fold higher than that in H2009 cancer, which indicated l-1-[18F]FETrp could differentiate these subtypes of lung cancers (H2009 and H460) by imaging quantification. Furthermore, small animal PET/CT imaging in intracranial glioma revealed l-1-[18F]FETrp could pass blood-brain barrier (BBB) and accumulate in glioma with a favorable imaging contrast (tumor-to-brain 2.9). Conclusions: l-1-[18F]FETrp highly accumulated in a wide range of malignancies including lung cancer, prostate cancer, and glioma. These results suggested that l-1-[18F]FETrp is a promising radiotracer for PET imaging of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1138-1146
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular Imaging and Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Cancer imaging
  • IDO
  • Kynurenine pathway
  • PET
  • Tryptophan metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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