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Molecular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows visualization of biological processes at the molecular level. Upregulation of endothelial ALCAM (activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule) is a key element for leukocyte recruitment in neurological disease. The aim of this study, therefore, was to develop a novel molecular MRI contrast agent, by conjugating anti-ALCAM antibodies to microparticles of iron oxide (MPIO), for detection of endothelial ALCAM expression in vivo. Binding specificity of ALCAM-MPIO was demonstrated in vitro under static and flow conditions. Subsequently, in a proof-of-concept study, mouse models of brain metastasis were induced by intracardial injection of brain-tropic human breast carcinoma, lung adenocarcinoma or melanoma cells to upregulate endothelial ALCAM. At selected time-points, mice were injected intravenously with ALCAM-MPIO, and ALCAM-MPIO induced hypointensities were observed on T2*-weighted images in all three models. Post-gadolinium MRI confirmed an intact blood-brain barrier, indicating endoluminal binding. Correlation between endothelial ALCAM expression and ALCAM-MPIO binding was confirmed histologically. Statistical analysis indicated high sensitivity (80-90%) and specificity (79-83%) for detection of endothelial ALCAM in vivo with ALCAM-MPIO. Given reports of endothelial ALCAM upregulation in numerous neurological diseases, this advance in our ability to image ALCAM in vivo may yield substantial improvements for both diagnosis and targeted therapy.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cereb Blood Flow Metab

Publication Date





1592 - 1607


CD166), Magnetic resonance imaging, activated leukocyte cell adhesion molecule (ALCAM, brain metastasis, inflammation, molecular imaging, Activated-Leukocyte Cell Adhesion Molecule, Adenocarcinoma of Lung, Animals, Antibodies, Monoclonal, Apoptosis, Brain Neoplasms, Breast Neoplasms, Cell Proliferation, Contrast Media, Female, Ferric Compounds, Humans, Lung Neoplasms, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Melanoma, Mice, Mice, SCID, Neoplasm Invasiveness, Tumor Cells, Cultured, Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays