Targeting of prostate-specific membrane antigen for radio-ligand therapy of triple-negative breast cancer

Agnieszka Morgenroth*, Ebru Tinkir, Andreas T. J. Vogg, Ramya Ambur Sankaranarayanan, Fatima Baazaoui, Felix M. Mottaghy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Triple-negative breast cancer has extremely high risk of relapse due to the lack of targeted therapies, intra- and inter-tumoral heterogeneity, and the inherent and acquired resistance to therapies. In this study, we evaluate the potential of prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) as target for radio-ligand therapy (RLT). Methods Tube formation was investigated after incubation of endothelial HUVEC cells in tumor-conditioned media and monitored after staining using microscopy. A binding study with Ga-68-labeled PSMA-addressing ligand was used to indicate targeting potential of PSMA on tumor-conditioned HUVEC cells. For mimicking of the therapeutic application, tube formation potential and vitality of tumor-conditioned HUVEC cells were assessed following an incubation with radiolabeled PSMA-addressing ligand [Lu-177]-PSMA-617. For in vivo experiments, NUDE mice were xenografted with triple-negative breast cancer cells MDA-MB231 or estrogen receptor expressing breast cancer cells MCF-7. Biodistribution and binding behavior of [Ga-68]-PSMA-11 was investigated in both tumor models at 30 min post injection using mu PET. PSMA- and CD31-specific staining was conducted to visualize PSMA expression and neovascularization in tumor tissue ex vivo. Results The triple-negative breast cancer cells MDA-MB231 showed a high pro-angiogenetic potential on tube formation of endothelial HUVEC cells. The induced endothelial expression of PSMA was efficiently addressed by radiolabeled PSMA-specific ligands. Lu-177-labeled PSMA-617 strongly impaired the vitality and angiogenic potential of HUVEC cells. In vivo, as visualized by mu PET, radiolabeled PSMA-ligand accumulated specifically in the triple-negative breast cancer xenograft MDA-MB231 (T/B ratio of 43.3 +/- 0.9), while no [Ga-68]-PSMA-11 was detected in the estrogen-sensitive MCF-7 xenograft (T/B ratio of 1.1 +/- 0.1). An ex vivo immunofluorescence analysis confirmed the localization of PSMA on MDA-MB231 xenograft-associated endothelial cells and also on TNBC cells. Conclusions Here we demonstrate PSMA as promising target for two-compartment endogenous radio-ligand therapy of triple-negative breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116
Number of pages11
JournalBreast Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2019


  • Triple-negative breast cancer
  • Prostate-specific membrane antigen
  • Radio-ligand therapy
  • PSMA

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