Preoperative imaging of colorectal cancers: Targeting the epithelial membrane antigen with a radiation-labeled monoclonal antibody
The epithelial membrane antigen (EMA) is expressed by the majority of colorectal cancers but has not previously been investigated as a target for radiation-labeled monoclonal antibodies (MoAb) in the imaging of patients with colorectal cancer. A rat IgG2a MoAb that recognizes EMA, ICR2, was labeled with Indium-111 (100 megabecquerel per milligram [MBq/mg]MoAb) using the bicyclic anhydride of the chelating agent diethylene triamine pentacetic acid (ccDTPA) and was administered intravenously to 22 patients known to have or thought to have colorectal cancer. Daily gamma camera imaging was performed for 3 days during the time between the administration of the radiation-labeled antibody and surgical procedure. At operation, the biopsies were done of the tumors and the normal colon, and the uptake of radiation-labeled MoAb was measured in a gamma well-counter. Immunocytochemistry for EMA expression also was done on resected tumors. Independent unblinded and blinded reporting was done on all scans. The sensitivity of 111In-ICR2 for detecting cancers preoperatively was 80% and 60%, respectively, on unblinded and blinded reporting, and the corresponding specificity 20% and 60%. The low unblinded specificity was attributable to a false-positive localization in severely dysplastic benign tumors (n = 2) and inflammatory tissue (n = 2). Liver metastases present in three patients were cold relative to normal liver. Lymph node metastases were localized in 1 of 6 patients preoperatively. The mean absolute uptake of 111In-ICR2 in tumor tissue was 7.75 +/- 3.77 x 10(-3) percent of injected dose per gram, and the ratio to normal colon was 2.10 +/- 0.92:1. On immunohistochemistry, EMA was expressed by 16 of the 17 primary cancers, both dysplastic adenomas, and all nodal metastatic deposits. EMA-negative tumors (1 cancer + 1 colonic lipoma) had negative antibody scans, and patients whose tumor was negative or only focally positive for EMA expression had lower tumor/normal colon ratios of radioactivity (1.30 +/- 0.26 versus 2.45 +/- 0.65, P = 0.005) on gamma well-counting of excised specimens. These results suggest a possible role for 111In-ICR2 in the detection of colorectal cancer and metastases but not its liver deposits.