A humanized antibody for imaging immune checkpoint ligand PD-L1 expression in tumors

Samit Chatterjee, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Matthew Gabrielson, Ala Lisok, Bryan Wharram, Polina Sysa-Shah, Babak Behnam Azad, Martin G. Pomper, Sridhar Nimmagadda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Antibodies targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 immune checkpoint lead to tumor regression and improved survival in several cancers. PD-L1 expression in tumors may be predictive of response to checkpoint blockade therapy. Because tissue samples might not always be available to guide therapy, we developed and evaluated a humanized antibody for non-invasive imaging of PD-L1 expression in tumors. Radiolabeled [111In]PD-L1-mAb and near-infrared dye conjugated NIR-PD-L1-mAb imaging agents were developed using the mouse and human cross-reactive PD-L1 antibody MPDL3280A. We tested specificity of [111In]PD-L1-mAb and NIR-PD-L1-mAb in cell lines and in tumors with varying levels of PD-L1 expression. We performed SPECT/CT imaging, biodistribution and blocking studies in NSG mice bearing tumors with constitutive PD-L1 expression (CHO-PDL1) and in controls (CHO). Results were confirmed in triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) (MDAMB231 and SUM149) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (H2444 and H1155) xenografts with varying levels of PD-L1 expression. There was specific binding of [111In]PD-L1-mAb and NIRPD- L1-mAb to tumor cells in vitro, correlating with PD-L1 expression levels. In mice bearing subcutaneous and orthotopic tumors, there was specific and persistent high accumulation of signal intensity in PD-L1 positive tumors (CHO-PDL1, MDAMB231, H2444) but not in controls. These results demonstrate that [111In]PD-L1-mAb and NIR-PD-L1-mAb can detect graded levels of PD-L1 expression in human tumor xenografts in vivo. As a humanized antibody, these findings suggest clinical translation of radiolabeled versions of MPDL3280A for imaging. Specificity of NIR-PD-L1-mAb indicates the potential for optical imaging of PD-L1 expression in tumors in relevant pre-clinical as well as clinical settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10215-10227
Number of pages13
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2016


  • Immune escape
  • Immunotherapy
  • MPDL3280A
  • Molecular imaging
  • Personalized medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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