Since proteoglycans (PGs) appear as key partners in chondrosarcoma biology, PG-targeted imaging using the radiotracer 99mTc-N-(triethylammonium)-3-propyl-ane-N5 (99mTc-NTP 15-5) developed by our group was previously demonstrated to be a good single-photon emission computed tomography tracer for cartilage neoplasms. We therefore initiated this new preclinical study to evaluate the relevance of 99mTc-NTP 15-5 imaging for the in vivo monitoring and quantitative assessment of chondrosarcoma response to zoledronic acid (ZOL) in the Swarm rat orthotopic model.
Rats bearing chondrosarcoma in the orthotopic paratibial location were treated by ZOL (100 μg/kg, subcutaneously) or phosphate-buffered saline, twice a week, from day 4 to day 48 post-tumor implantation. 99mTc-NTP 15-5 imaging was performed at regular intervals with the target-to-background ratio (TBR) determined. Tumor volume was monitored using a calliper, and histology was performed at the end of the study. From day 11 to day 48, mean TBR values ranged from 1.7 ± 0.6 to 2.3 ± 0.6 in ZOL-treated rats and from 2.1 ± 1.0 to 4.9 ± 0.9 in controls. Tumor growth inhibition was evidenced using a calliper from day 24 and associated to a decrease in PG content in treated tumor tissues (confirmed by histology).
This work demonstrated two proofs of concept: (1) biphosphonate therapy could be a promising therapeutic approach for chondrosarcoma; (2) 99mTc-NTP 15-5 is expected to offer a novel imaging modality for the in vivo evaluation of the extracellular matrix features of chondrosarcoma, which could be useful for the follow-up and quantitative assessment of proteoglycan ‘downregulation’ associated to the response to therapeutic attempts.