Detection by fluorescence of pituitary neuroendocrine tumour (PitNET) tissue during endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery using bevacizumab-800CW (DEPARTURE trial): study protocol for a non-randomised, non-blinded, single centre, feasibility and dose-finding trial

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INTRODUCTION: Achieving gross total resection and endocrine remission in pituitary neuroendocrine tumours (PitNET) can be challenging, especially in PitNETs with cavernous sinus (CS) invasion, defined as a Knosp grade of 3 or 4. A potential target to identify PitNET tissue is vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), which expression is known to be significantly higher in PitNETs with CS invasion.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: The aim of this non-randomised, non-blinded, single centre, feasibility and dose-finding phase 1 trial is to determine the feasibility of intraoperative fluorescence imaging detection of PitNET tissue during endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery using the VEGF-A targeting optical agent bevacizumab-800CW (4, 5, 10 or 25 mg). Nine to fifteen patients with a PitNET with a Knosp grade of 3 or 4 will be included. Secondary objectives are: (1) To identify the optimal tracer dose for imaging of PitNET tissue during transsphenoidal surgery for further development in a phase 2 fluorescence molecular endoscopy trial. (2) To quantify fluorescence intensity in vivo and ex vivo with multidiameter single-fibre reflectance, single-fibre fluorescence (MDSFR/SFF) spectroscopy. (3) To correlate and validate both the in vivo and ex vivo measured fluorescence signals with histopathological analysis and immunohistochemical staining. (4) To assess the (sub)cellular location of bevacizumab-800CW by ex vivo fluorescence microscopy. Intraoperative, three imaging moments are defined to detect the fluorescent signal. The tumour-to-background ratios are defined by intraoperative fluorescence in vivo measurements including MDSFR/SFF spectroscopy data and by ex vivo back-table fluorescence imaging. After inclusion of three patients in each dose group, an interim analysis will be performed to define the optimal dose.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: Approval was obtained from the Medical Ethics Review Board of the University Medical Centre Groningen. Results will be disseminated through national and international journals. The participants and relevant patient support groups will be informed about the results.


Original languageEnglish
Article number049109
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 7-Oct-2021


  • pituitary disorders
  • neurosurgery

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