Validation of Novel Molecular Imaging Targets Identified by Functional Genomic mRNA Profiling to Detect Dysplasia in Barrett’s Esophagus

Xiaojuan Zhao, Ruben Y. Gabriels, Wouter T. R. Hooghiemstra, Marjory Koller, Gert Jan Meersma, Manon Buist-Homan, Lydia Visser, Dominic J. Robinson, Anna Tenditnaya, Dimitris Gorpas, Vasilis Ntziachristos, Arend Karrenbeld, Gursah Kats-Ugurlu, Rudolf S. N. Fehrmann, Wouter B. Nagengast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Simple Summary: Barrett's esophagus (BE) is the precursor of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Dysplastic BE (DBE), including low-grade dysplasia (LGD) and high-grade dysplasia (HGD), shows a higher progression risk to EAC compared to non-dysplastic BE (NDBE). If LGD or HGD is detected, more intensive endoscopic surveillance or endoscopic treatment is recommended. This results in a significantly improved prognosis compared to EACs treated by surgery and/or chemoradiotherapy. However, the miss rates for detecting DBE by endoscopy remain high. Fluorescence molecular endoscopy (FME) can fill this gap by targeting the tumor-specific expression of proteins. This study aimed to identify target proteins suitable for FME. We identified SPARC, SULF1, PKC iota, and DDR1 as promising imaging targets for FME to differentiate DBE from NDBE tissue. We are also the first to develop near-infrared fluorescent tracers, SULF1-800CW and SPARC-800CW, for the endoscopic imaging of DBE tissue.

Abstract: Barrett's esophagus (BE) is the precursor of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). Dysplastic BE (DBE) has a higher progression risk to EAC compared to non-dysplastic BE (NDBE). However, the miss rates for the endoscopic detection of DBE remain high. Fluorescence molecular endoscopy (FME) can detect DBE and mucosal EAC by highlighting the tumor-specific expression of proteins. This study aimed to identify target proteins suitable for FME. Publicly available RNA expression profiles of EAC and NDBE were corrected by functional genomic mRNA (FGmRNA) profiling. Following a class comparison between FGmRNA profiles of EAC and NDBE, predicted, significantly upregulated genes in EAC were prioritized by a literature search. Protein expression of prioritized genes was validated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on DBE and NDBE tissues. Near-infrared fluorescent tracers targeting the proteins were developed and evaluated ex vivo on fresh human specimens. In total, 1976 overexpressed genes were identified in EAC (n = 64) compared to NDBE (n = 66) at RNA level. Prioritization and IHC validation revealed SPARC, SULF1, PKC iota, and DDR1 (all p < 0.0001) as the most attractive imaging protein targets for DBE detection. Newly developed tracers SULF1-800CW and SPARC-800CW both showed higher fluorescence intensity in DBE tissue compared to paired non-dysplastic tissue. This study identified SPARC, SULF1, PKC iota, and DDR1 as promising targets for FME to differentiate DBE from NDBE tissue, for which SULF1-800CW and SPARC-800CW were successfully ex vivo evaluated. Clinical studies should further validate these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2462
Number of pages15
JournalCancers
Volume14
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17-May-2022

Keywords

  • Barrett's esophagus
  • esophageal adenocarcinoma
  • fluorescent molecular endoscopy
  • novel biomarkers
  • functional genomic mRNA profiling
  • CANCER-ASSOCIATED FIBROBLASTS
  • SQUAMOUS-CELL CARCINOMA
  • GRADE DYSPLASIA
  • POOR-PROGNOSIS
  • E-CADHERIN
  • IN-VITRO
  • EXPRESSION
  • ADENOCARCINOMA
  • PROLIFERATION
  • AMPLIFICATION

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