Molecular imaging of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) may allow detection of atherosclerotic lesions vulnerable to rupture. In this study, we develop a novel radiolabelled compound that can target gelatinase MMP subtypes (MMP2/9) with high selectivity and inhibitory potency. Inhibitory potencies of several halogenated analogues of MMP subtype-selective inhibitors (N-benzenesulfonyliminodiacetyl monohydroxamates and N-halophenoxy-benzenesulfonyl iminodiacetyl monohydroxamates) were in the nanomolar range for MMP2/9. The analogue with highest inhibitory potency and selectivity was radiolabelled with [123I], resulting in moderate radiochemical yield, and high radiochemical purity. Biodistribution studies in mice, revealed stabilization in blood 1 hour after intravenous bolus injection. Intravenous infusion of the radioligand and subsequent autoradiography of excised aortas showed tracer uptake in atheroprone mice. Distribution of the radioligand showed co-localization with MMP2/9 immunohistochemical staining. In conclusion, we have developed a novel selective radiolabeled MMP2/9 inhibitor, suitable for single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) imaging that effectively targets atherosclerotic lesions in mice.
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