Visualizing dynamic changes in PD-L1 expression in non-small cell lung carcinoma with radiolabeled recombinant human PD-1

Haiming Luo, Changwen Yang, Dong Kuang, Sixiang Shi, Annie W. Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Tumor heterogeneity limits the predictive value of PD-L1 expression and influences the outcomes of the immunohistochemical assay for therapy-induced changes in PD-L1 levels. This study aimed to determine the predictive value of PD-L1 for non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), thereby developing imaging agents to non-invasively image and examine the effect of the therapeutic response to PD-L1 blockade therapy. Methods: A cohort of 102 patients with lung cancer was analyzed, and the prognostic significance of PD-L1 expression level was investigated. Recombinant human PD-1 ECD protein (rhPD1) was expressed, purified, and labeled with 64Cu for the evaluation of PD-L1 status in tumors. Mice subcutaneously bearing PD-L1 high-expressing tumor HCC827 and PD-L1 low-expressing tumor A549 were used to determine tracer-target specificity and examine the effect of therapeutic response to PD-L1 blockade therapy. Results: PD-L1 was proved to be a good prognosis marker for NSCLC, and its expression was correlated with the histology of NSCLC. PET imaging revealed high tumor accumulation of 64Cu-NOTA-rhPD1 in HCC827 tumors (9.0 ± 0.5%ID/g), whereas it was 3.2 ± 0.4%ID/g in A549 tumors at 3 h post-injection. The lower tumor uptake (3.1 ± 0.3%ID/g) of 64Cu-labeled denatured rhPD1 in HCC827 tumors at 3 h post-injection (p < 0.001) demonstrated the target specificity of 64Cu-NOTA-rhPD1. Furthermore, PET showed that 64Cu-NOTA-rhPD1 sensitively monitored treatment-related changes in PD-L1 expression, and seemed to be superior to [18F]FDG. Conclusion: We identified PD-L1 as a good prognosis marker for surgically resected NSCLC and developed the PET tracer 64Cu-NOTA-rhPD1 with high target specificity for PD-L1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2735-2745
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • Cu
  • Non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC)
  • PD-1-derived ECD protein
  • Positron emission tomography (PET)
  • Programmed cell death ligand-1 (PD-L1)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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