Assessment of the sensitivity of 2 H MR spectroscopy measurements of [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate metabolism for detecting tumor cell death.

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Hesse, Friederike 
Wright, Alan 
Bulat, Flaviu 
Kreis, Felix 

Imaging the metabolism of [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate to produce malate can be used to detect tumor cell death post-treatment. Here, we assess the sensitivity of the technique for detecting cell death by lowering the concentration of injected [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate and by varying the extent of tumor cell death through changes in drug concentration. Mice were implanted subcutaneously with human triple negative breast cancer cells (MDA-MB-231) and injected with 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 g/kg [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate before and after treatment with a multivalent TRAlL-R2 agonist (MEDI3039) at 0.1, 0.4, and 0.8 mg/kg. Tumor conversion of [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate to [2,3-2 H2 ]malate was assessed from a series of 13 spatially localized 2 H MR spectra acquired over 65 min using a pulse-acquire sequence with a 2-ms BIR4 adiabatic excitation pulse. Tumors were then excised and stained for histopathological markers of cell death: cleaved caspase 3 (CC3) and DNA damage (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling [TUNEL]). The rate of malate production and the malate/fumarate ratio plateaued at tumor fumarate concentrations of 2 mM, which were obtained with injected [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate concentrations of 0.3 g/kg and above. Tumor malate concentration and the malate/fumarate ratio increased linearly with the extent of cell death determined histologically. At an injected [2,3-2 H2 ]fumarate concentration of 0.3 g/kg, 20% CC3 staining corresponded to a malate concentration of 0.62 mM and a malate/fumarate ratio of 0.21. Extrapolation indicated that there would be no detectable malate at 0% CC3 staining. The use of low and nontoxic fumarate concentrations and the production of [2,3-2 H2 ]malate at concentrations that are within the range that can be detected clinically suggest this technique could translate to the clinic.


Funder: Cambridge Trust; doi:

deuterium, fumarate, necrosis, tumor, Humans, Animals, Mice, Malates, Neoplasms, Cell Death, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Fumarates
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NMR Biomed
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Cancer Research UK (C14303/A17197)
Cancer Research UK (CB4100)
Cambridge Trust