In vivo molecular imaging of met tyrosine kinase growth factor receptor activity in normal organs and breast tumors

Miriam Shaharabany, Rinat Abramovitch, Tammar Kushnir, Galia Tsarfaty, Michal Ravid-Megido, Judith Horev, Rotem Ron, Yacov Itzchak, Ilan Tsarfaty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Molecular imaging techniques allow visualization of specific gene products and their physiological processes in living tissues. In this study, we present a new approach for molecular imaging of endogenous tyrosine kinase receptor activity. Met and its ligand hepatocyte growth factor scatter factor (HGF/SF), which mediate mitogenicity, tumorigenicity, and angiogenesis, were used as a model. HGF/SF and Met play a significant role in the pathogenesis and biology of a wide variety of human epithelial cancers and, therefore, may serve as potential targets for cancer prognosis and therapy. We have shown previously that in vitro activation of Met by HGF/SF increases oxygen consumption. In this study, we demonstrate that Met activation in vivo by HGF/SF alters the hemodynamics of normal and malignant Met-expressing tissues. Tumor-bearing BALB/C mice were i.v. injected with HGF/SF and imaged using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Doppler ultrasound. Organs and tumors expressing high levels of Met showed the most substantial alteration in blood oxygenation levels as measured by blood oxygenation level depended (BOLD)-MRI. No significant alteration was observed in tumors or organs that does not express Met. In the liver, which expresses high levels of Met, MRI signal alteration of about 60% was observed. In the kidneys, signal alteration was approximately 30%, and no change was observed in muscles. The extent of MRI signal alteration was also in correlation with HGF/SF doses. Injection of 7 and 170 ng/g body weight resulted in signal alteration of 5% and 30%, respectively, in tumors. Doppler ultrasound measurements demonstrated that these MRI changes are at least partially attributable to altered blood flow. These hemodynamic alterations, measured by MRI and Doppler ultrasound, were used in this study for the molecular imaging of Met activity in vivo. This novel molecular imaging technique may be used for in vivo diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy of Met-expressing tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4873-4878
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2001


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