PET imaging of urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) in prostate cancer: current status and future perspectives

Overexpression of urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptors (uPAR) represents an important biomarker for aggressiveness in most common malignant diseases, including prostate cancer (PC). Accordingly, uPAR expression either assessed directly in malignant PC tissue or assessed directly in plasma (intact/cleaved forms)-provides independent additional clinical information to that contributed by PSA, Gleason score, and other relevant pathological and clinical parameters. In this respect, non-invasive molecular imaging by positron emission tomography (PET) offers a very attractive technology platform, which can provide the required quantitative information on the uPAR expression profile, without the need for invasive procedures and the risk of missing the target due to tumor heterogeneity. These observations support non-invasive PET imaging of uPAR in PC as a clinically relevant diagnostic and prognostic imaging method. In this review, we will focus on the recent development of uPAR PET and the relevance within prostate cancer imaging. Novel antibody and small-molecule radiotracers-targeting uPAR, including a series of uPAR-targeting PET ligands, based on the high affinity peptide ligand AE105, have been synthesized and tested in vitro and in vivo in preclinical murine xenograft models and, recently, in a first-ever clinical uPAR PET study in cancer patients, including patients with PC. In this phase I study, a high and specific uptake of the tracer (64)Cu-DOTA-AE105 was found in both primary tumors and lymph node metastases. The results are encouraging and support large-scale clinical trials to determine the utility of uPAR PET in the management of patients with PC with the goal of improving outcome.

Clinical and translational imaging. 2016 Jan 04 [Epub]

Dorthe Skovgaard, Morten Persson, Andreas Kjaer

Department of Clinical Physiology, Nuclear Medicine & PET and Cluster for Molecular Imaging, Rigshospitalet and University of Copenhagen, National University Hospital, Blegdamsvej 9, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark., Curasight, Copenhagen, Denmark.