Fluorescently Labeled Cetuximab-IRDye800 for Guided Surgical Excision of Ameloblastoma: A Proof of Principle Study

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Fluorescently labeled epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) antibodies have successfully identified microscopic tumors in multiple in vivo models of human cancers with limited toxicity. The present study sought to demonstrate the ability of fluorescently labeled anti-EGFR, cetuximab-IRDye800, to localize to ameloblastoma (AB) tumor cells in vitro and in vivo. Material and Methods: EGFR expression in AB cells was confirmed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry. Primary AB cells were labeled in vitro with cetuximab-IRDye800 or nonspecific IgG-IRDye800. An in vivo patient-derived xenograft (PDX) model of AB was developed. The tumor tissue from 3 patients was implanted subcutaneously into immunocompromised mice. The mice received an intravenous injection of cetuximab-IRDye800 or IgG-IRDye800 and underwent imaging to detect infrared fluorescence using a Pearl imaging system (LI-COR Biosciences, Lincoln, NE). After resection of the overlying skin, the tumor/background ratios (TBRs) were calculated and statistically analyzed using a paired t test. Results: EGFR expression was seen in all AB samples. Tumor-specific labeling was achieved, as evidenced by a positive fluorescence signal from cetuximab-IRDye800 binding to AB cells, with little staining seen in the negative controls treated with IgG-IRDye800. In the animal PDX model, imaging revealed that the TBRs produced by cetuximab were significantly greater than those produced by IgG on days 7 to 14 for AB-20 tumors. After skin flap removal to simulate a preresection state, the TBRs increased with cetuximab and were significantly greater than the TBRs with the IgG control for PDX tumors derived from the 3 patients with AB. The excised tissues were embedded in paraffin and examined to confirm the presence of tumor. Conclusions: Fluorescently labeled anti-EGFR demonstrated specificity for AB cells and PDX tumors. The present study is the first report of tumor-specific, antibody-based imaging of odontogenic tumors, of which AB is one of the most clinically aggressive. We expect this technology will ultimately assist surgeons treating AB by helping to accurately assess the tumor margins during surgery, leading to improved long-term local tumor control and less surgical morbidity.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Morlandt AB; Moore LS; Johnson AO; Smith CM; Stevens TM; Warram JM; MacDougall M; Rosenthal EL; Amm HM
  • Start Page

  • 1736
  • End Page

  • 1747
  • Volume

  • 78
  • Issue

  • 10