Apoptosis is a mode of programmed cell death in multicellular organisms and plays a central role in controlling embryonic development, growth and differentiation and monitoring the induction of tumor cell death through anticancer therapy. Since the most effective chemotherapeutics rely on apoptosis, imaging apoptotic processes can be an invaluable tool to monitor therapeutic intervention and discover new drugs modulating apoptosis. The most attractive target for developing specific apoptosis imaging probes is caspases, crucial mediators of apoptosis. Up to now, various optical imaging strategies for apoptosis have been developed as an easy and economical modality. However, current optical applications are limited by poor sensitivity and specificity. A subset of molecular imaging contrast agents known as “activatable” or “smart” molecular probes allow for very high signal-to-background ratios compared to conventional targeted contrast agents and open up the possibility of imaging intracellular targets. In this review, we will discuss the unique design strategies and applications of activatable probes recently developed for fluorescence and bioluminescence imaging of caspase activity.
Activatable probes; apoptosis; bioluminescence; caspases; optical imaging
Molecular magnetic resonance (MR) imaging plays an important role in studying molecular and cellular processes associated with heart disease. Targeted probes that recognize important biomarkers of atherosclerosis, apoptosis, necrosis, angiogenesis, thrombosis and inflammation have been developed.
This review discusses properties of chemically different types of contrast agents including iron oxide nanoparticles, gadolinium based nanoparticles or micelles, discrete peptide conjugates and activatable probes. Numerous examples of contrast agents based on these approaches have been used in preclinical MR imaging of cardiovascular diseases. Clinical applications are still under investigation for some selected agents with highly promising initial results.
Molecular MR imaging shows great potential for the detection, characterization of a wide range of cardiovascular diseases and for monitoring response to therapy.
Cardiovascular; molecular imaging; MRI; atherosclerosis; iron oxide nanoparticles; targeted peptides; smart probes; micelles; gadolinium
Imaging agents that enable direct visualization and quantification of apoptosis in vivo have great potential value for monitoring chemotherapeutic response as well as for early diagnosis and disease monitoring. We describe here the development of fluorescently labeled activity based probes (ABPs) that covalently label active caspases in vivo. We used these probes to monitor apoptosis in the thymus of mice treated with dexamethasone (dex) as well as in tumor-bearing mice treated with the apoptosis inducing monoclonal antibody Apomab. Caspase ABPs provided direct readouts of the kinetics of apoptosis in live animals, whole organs and tissue extracts. The probes produced a maximum fluorescent signal that could be monitored non-invasively and that coincided with the peak in caspase activity as measured by gel analysis. Overall, these studies demonstrate that caspase-specific ABPs have the potential to be used for non-invasive imaging of apoptosis in both pre-clinical and clinical settings.
Caspases; apoptosis; imaging; activity based probes
Conventional imaging methods, such as angiography, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging and radionuclide imaging, rely on contrast agents (iodine, gadolinium, radioisotopes) that are “always on”. While these agents have proven clinically useful, they are not sufficiently sensitive because of the inadequate target to background ratio. A unique aspect of optical imaging is that fluorescence probes can be designed to be activatable, i.e. only “turned on” under certain conditions. These probes can be designed to emit signal only after binding a target tissue, greatly increasing sensitivity and specificity in the detection of disease. There are two basic types of activatable fluorescence probes; 1) conventional enzymatically activatable probes, which exist in the quenched state until activated by enzymatic cleavage mostly outside of the cells, and 2) newly designed target-cell specific activatable probes, which are quenched until activated in targeted cells by endolysosomal processing that results when the probe binds specific cell-surface receptors and is subsequently internalized. Herein, we present a review of the rational design and in vivo applications of target-cell specific activatable probes. Designing these probes based on their photo-chemical (e.g. activation strategy), pharmacological (e.g. biodistribution), and biological (e.g. target specificity) properties has recently allowed the rational design and synthesis of target-cell specific activatable fluorescence imaging probes, which can be conjugated to a wide variety of targeting molecules. Several different photo-chemical mechanisms have been utilized, each of which offers a unique capability for probe design. These include: self-quenching, homo- and hetero-fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), H-dimer formation and photon-induced electron transfer (PeT). In addition, the repertoire is further expanded by the option for reversibility or irreversibility of the signal emitted using the aforementioned mechanisms. Given the wide range of photochemical mechanisms and properties, target-cell specific activatable probes possess considerable flexibility and can be adapted to specific diagnostic needs. Herein, we summarize the chemical, pharmacological, and biological basis of target-cell specific activatable imaging probes and discuss methods to successfully design such target-cell specific activatable probes for in vivo cancer imaging.
Real-time monitoring of cellular and organ conditions improves our understanding of various physiopathological phenomena. Such monitoring is expected to provide important alternatives for clinical diagnosis and therapy. We have sought to show physiopathological changes of organs as well as cells. Here, we present an example of in vivo imaging of liver states using the luciferase-based caspase-3 optical probe. We examined dynamic changes of apoptosis (caspase-3 activity) of a mouse liver as well as those of liver cells, proving that the emitted signals reflected the biochemically evaluated apoptotic cell death. In live liver cell (AML 12) experiments, the optical probe for caspase-3 activity emitted signals in response to Fas-ligand, staurosporine and hypoxia/reoxygenation, demonstrating that the probe can measure cellular apoptosis quantitatively. We therefore applied this probe for mouse liver ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) and drug-toxicity to liver. By expressing the probe in a mouse liver adenovirally, we imaged liver caspase-3 activity (i.e. apoptotic damage) non-invasively and chronologically in the hepatic I/R model of mice. The duration of liver ischemia affected the post-ischemic caspase-dependent damage. Ischemia (up to 60 min) enhanced liver damage after reperfusion, but prolonged ischemia (90 min of ischemia) induced not apoptotic cell death but necrotic cell death. Direct observations of the changes of organ conditions elucidated the dynamism of organ function and damage. These technologies clearly possess clinical relevance. They are expected to provide a new diagnostic tool for various clinical settings in the future.
imaging; non-invasive monitoring; optical probe; bioluminescence; luciferase.
Novel anticancer drugs targeting key apoptosis regulators have been developed and are undergoing clinical trials. Pharmacodynamic biomarkers to define the optimum dose of drug that provokes tumor apoptosis are in demand; acquisition of longitudinal tumor biopsies is a significant challenge and minimally invasive biomarkers are required. Considering this, we have developed and validated a preclinical ‘death-switch' model for the discovery of secreted biomarkers of tumour apoptosis using in vitro proteomics and in vivo evaluation of the novel imaging probe [18F]ML-10 for non-invasive detection of apoptosis using positron emission tomography (PET). The ‘death-switch' is a constitutively active mutant caspase-3 that is robustly induced by doxycycline to drive synchronous apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells in vitro or grown as tumor xenografts. Death-switch induction caused caspase-dependent apoptosis between 3 and 24 hours in vitro and regression of ‘death-switched' xenografts occurred within 24 h correlating with the percentage of apoptotic cells in tumor and levels of an established cell death biomarker (cleaved cytokeratin-18) in the blood. We sought to define secreted biomarkers of tumor apoptosis from cultured cells using Discovery Isobaric Tag proteomics, which may provide candidates to validate in blood. Early after caspase-3 activation, levels of normally secreted proteins were decreased (e.g. Gelsolin and Midkine) and proteins including CD44 and High Mobility Group protein B1 (HMGB1) that were released into cell culture media in vitro were also identified in the bloodstream of mice bearing death-switched tumors. We also exemplify the utility of the death-switch model for the validation of apoptotic imaging probes using [18F]ML-10, a PET tracer currently in clinical trials. Results showed increased tracer uptake of [18F]ML-10 in tumours undergoing apoptosis, compared with matched tumour controls imaged in the same animal. Overall, the death-switch model represents a robust and versatile tool for the discovery and validation of apoptosis biomarkers.
biomarkers; apoptosis; capase-3; death-switch; proteomics; imaging
Objectives: Most chemotherapy agents cause tumor cell death primarily by the induction of apoptosis. The ability to noninvasively image apoptosis in vivo could dramatically benefit pre-clinical and clinical evaluation of chemotherapeutics targeting the apoptotic pathway. This study aims to visualize the dynamics of apoptotic process with temporal bioluminescence imaging (BLI) using an apoptosis specific bioluminescence reporter gene. Methods: Both UM-SCC-22B human head and neck squamous carcinoma cells and 4T1 murine breast cancer cells were genetically modified with a caspase-3 specific cyclic firefly luciferase reporter gene (pcFluc-DEVD). Apoptosis induced by different concentrations of doxorubicin in the transfected cells was evaluated by both annexin V staining and BLI. Longitudinal BLI was performed in xenografted tumor models at different time points after doxorubicin or Doxil treatment, to evaluate apoptosis. After imaging, DNA fragmentation in apoptotic cells was assessed in frozen tumor sections using TUNEL staining. Results: Dose- and time-dependent apoptosis induced by doxorubicin in pcFluc-DEVD transfected UM-SCC-22B and 4T1 cells was visualized and quantified by BLI. Caspase-3 activation was confirmed by both caspase activity assay and GloTM luciferase assay. One dose of doxorubicin treatment induced a dramatic increase in BLI intensity as early as 24 h after treatment in 22B-pcFluc-DEVD xenografted tumors. Sustained signal increase was observed for the first 3 days and the fluorescent signal from ex vivo TUNEL staining was consistent with BLI imaging results. Long-term imaging revealed that BLI signal consistently increased and reached a maximum at around day 12 after the treatment with one dose of Doxil. Conclusions: BLI of apoptosis with pcFluc-DEVD as a reporter gene facilitates the determination of kinetics of the apoptotic process in a real-time manner, which provides a unique tool for drug development and therapy response monitoring.
apoptosis; cyclic firefly luciferase; bioluminescence imaging; doxorubicin; caspase-3.
A new non-invasive method for monitoring apoptosis has been developed using high frequency (40 MHz) ultrasound imaging. Conventional ultrasound backscatter imaging techniques were used to observe apoptosis occurring in response to anticancer agents in cells in vitro, in tissues ex vivo and in live animals. The mechanism behind this ultrasonic detection was identified experimentally to be the subcellular nuclear changes, condensation followed by fragmentation, that cells undergo during apoptosis. These changes dramatically increase the high frequency ultrasound scattering efficiency of apoptotic cells over normal cells (25- to 50-fold change in intensity). The result is that areas of tissue undergoing apoptosis become much brighter in comparison to surrounding viable tissues. The results provide a framework for the possibility of using high frequency ultrasound imaging in the future to non-invasively monitor the effects of chemotherapeutic agents and other anticancer treatments in experimental animal systems and in patients. © 1999 Cancer Research Campaign
ultrasound imaging; apoptosis; chemotherapy; photodynamic-therapy
Multimodality molecular imaging should have potential for compensating the disadvantages and enhancing the advantages of each modality. Nuclear imaging is superior to optical imaging in whole body imaging and in quantification due to good tissue penetration of gamma rays. However, target specificity can be compromised by high background signal due to the always signal ON feature of nuclear probes. In contrast, optical imaging can be superior in target specific imaging by employing target-specific signal activation systems, although it is not quantitative because of signal attenuation. In this study, to take advantage of the mutual cooperation of each modality, multimodality imaging was performed by a combination of quantitative radiolabeled probe and an activatable optical probe. The monoclonal antibodies, panitumumab (anti-HER1) and trastuzumab (anti-HER2) were labeled with 111In and ICG, and tested in both HER1 and HER2 tumor bearing mice by the cocktail injection of radiolabeled and optical probes, and by the single injection of a dual-labeled probe. The optical and nuclear images were obtained over 6 days after the conjugates injection. The fluorescence activation properties of ICG labeled antibodies were also investigated by in vitro microscopy. In vitro microscopy demonstrated that there was no fluorescence signal with either panitumumab-ICG or trastuzumab-ICG, when the probes were bound to cell surface antigens but were not yet internalized. After the conjugates were internalized into the cells, both conjugates showed bright fluorescence signal only in the target cells. These results show both conjugates work as activatable probes. In vivo multimodality imaging by injection of a cocktail of radio-optical probes, only the target specific tumor was visualized by optical imaging. Meanwhile, the biodistribution profile of the injected antibody was provided by nuclear imaging. Similar results were obtained with radio and optical dual labeled probe, and it is confirmed that pharmacokinetic properties did not affect the results above.
Here, we could characterize the molecular targets by activatable optical probes, and visualize the delivery of targeting molecules quantitatively by radioactive probes. Multimodality molecular imaging combining activatable optical and radioactive probe has great potential for simultaneous visualization, characterization, and measurement of biological processes.
Optical projection tomography is a new ex vivo imaging technique that allows imaging of whole organs in three dimensions at high spatial resolutions. In this Letter we demonstrate its capability to tomographically visualize molecular activity in whole organs of mice. In particular, eosinophil activity in asthmatic lungs is resolved using a Born-normalized fluorescence optical projection tomography and employing a near-IR molecular probe. The possibility to achieve molecularly sensitive imaging contrast in optical projection tomography by means of targeted and activatable imaging reporter agents adds a new range of capabilities for investigating molecular signatures of pathophysiological processes and a wide variety of diseases and their development.
Targeted molecular imaging techniques have become indispensable tools in modern diagnostics because they provide accurate and specific diagnosis of disease information. Conventional non-specific contrast agents suffer from low targeting efficiency, thus, the use of molecularly targeted imaging probes are needed depending on different imaging modalities. Although recent technologies have yielded various strategies for designing smart probes, utilization of peptide-based probes has been most successful. Phage display technology and combinatorial peptide chemistry have profoundly impacted the pool of available targeting peptides for the efficient and specific delivery of imaging labels. To date, selected peptides that target a variety of disease-related receptors and biomarkers are in place. These targeting peptides can be coupled with the appropriate imaging moieties or nanoplatforms on demand with the help of sophisticated bioconjugation or radiolabeling techniques. This review article examines the current trends in peptide-based imaging probes developed for in vivo applications. We discuss the advantage and challenges in developing peptide-based probes, and summarize current systems with respect to their unique design strategies and applications.
In vivo molecular imaging has a great potential to impact medicine by detecting diseases in early stages (screening), identifying extent of disease, selecting disease- and patient-specific therapeutic treatment (personalized medicine), applying a directed or targeted therapy, and measuring molecular-specific effects of treatment. Current clinical molecular imaging approaches primarily use PET- or SPECT-based techniques. In ongoing preclinical research novel molecular targets of different diseases are identified and, sophisticated and multifunctional contrast agents for imaging these molecular targets are developed along with new technologies and instrumentation for multimodality molecular imaging. Contrast-enhanced molecular ultrasound with molecularly-targeted contrast microbubbles is explored as a clinically translatable molecular imaging strategy for screening, diagnosing, and monitoring diseases at the molecular level. Optical imaging with fluorescent molecular probes and ultrasound imaging with molecularly-targeted microbubbles are attractive strategies since they provide real-time imaging, are relatively inexpensive, produce images with high spatial resolution, and do not involve exposure to ionizing irradiation. Raman spectroscopy/microscopy has emerged as a molecular optical imaging strategy for ultrasensitive detection of multiple biomolecules/biochemicals with both in vivo and ex vivo versatility. Photoacoustic imaging is a hybrid of optical and ultrasound modalities involving optically-excitable molecularly-targeted contrast agents and quantitative detection of resulting oscillatory contrast agent movement with ultrasound. Current preclinical findings and advances in instrumentation such as endoscopes and microcatheters suggest that these molecular imaging modalities have numerous clinical applications and will be translated into clinical use in the near future.
Characteristic changes in cell morphology paralleled by the appearance of a multitude of molecular and biochemical markers occur during apoptosis. These changes vary depending on the cell type, mechanism of induction of apoptosis, and the time-window at which the process of apoptosis is analyzed. By virtue of the capability of rapid measurement of individual cells the flow- and imaging-cytometry become preferred technologies to detect, identify and record incidence of apoptosis in large cell populations. It also provided a valuable tool to investigate molecular mechanisms in field of necrobiology. This review outlines the progress in development of the most commonly used cytometric methods probing cells death based on analysis of fragmentation of DNA, activation of caspases, analysis of mitochondrial potential, alterations in plasma membrane structure and other features that characterize programmed cell death. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled “Apoptosis: Four Decades Later”.
programmed cell death; cell necrobiology; fluorescent probes; cytometry; TUNEL; FLICA; SYTO probes; imaging cytometry
Caspase-activatable cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) probes, designed for efficient cell uptake and specificity via cleavable intramolecular quenched-fluorophore strategies, show promise for identifying and imaging retinal ganglion cell apoptosis in vivo. However, initial cell uptake and trafficking events cannot be visualized because the probes are designed to be optically quenched in the intact state. To visualize subcellular activation events in real-time during apoptosis, a new series of matched quenched and non-quenched CPP probes were synthesized. In both native and staurosporine-differentiated RGC-5 cells, probe uptake was time- and concentration-dependent through clathrine-, caveolin- and pinocytosis-mediated endocytic mechanisms. During apoptosis, KcapTR488, a novel dual fluorophore CPP probe, revealed by multi-spectral imaging a temporal coupling of endosomal release and effector caspase activation in RGC-5 cells. The novel CPPs described herein provide new tools to study spatial and temporal regulation of endosomal permeability during apoptosis.
Cell death is a critically important biological process. Disruption of homeostasis, either by excessive or deficient cell death, is a hallmark of many pathological conditions. Recent research advances have greatly increased our molecular understanding of cell death and its role in a range of diseases and therapeutic treatments. Central to these ongoing research and clinical efforts is the need for imaging technologies that can locate and identify cell death in a wide array of in vitro and in vivo biomedical samples with varied spatiotemporal requirements. This review article summarizes community efforts over the past five years to identify useful biomarkers for dead and dying cells, and to develop molecular probes that target these biomarkers for optical, radionuclear, or magnetic resonance imaging. Apoptosis biomarkers are classified as either intracellular (caspase enzymes, mitochondrial membrane potential, cytosolic proteins) or extracellular (plasma membrane phospholipids, membrane potential, surface exposed histones). Necrosis, autophagy, and senescence biomarkers are described, as well as unexplored cell death biomarkers. The article discusses possible chemotherapeutic and theranostic strategies, and concludes with a summary of current challenges and expected eventual rewards of clinical cell death imaging.
Apoptosis; necrosis; autophagy; senescence; molecular imaging; optical imaging; nuclear imaging; magnetic resonance imaging; contrast agent; theranostic
Purpose. The aim of this paper is to develop new optical bioprobes for the imaging of apoptosis.
Procedure. We developed quenched near-infrared probes which become fluorescent upon cleavage by caspase-3, the key regulatory enzyme of apoptosis. Results. Probes were shown to be selectively cleaved by recombinant caspase-3. Apoptosis of cultured endothelial cells was associated with an increased fluorescent signal for the cleaved probes, which colocalized with caspase-3 and was reduced by the addition of a caspase-3 inhibitor. Flow cytometry demonstrated a similar profile between the cleaved probes and annexin V. Ex vivo experiments showed that sections of hearts obtained from mice treated with the proapoptotic drug doxorubicin displayed an increase in the fluorescent signal for the cleaved probes, which was reduced by a caspase-3 inhibitor. Conclusion. We demonstrated the capacity of these novel probes to detect apoptosis by optical imaging in vitro and ex vivo.
Apoptosis is a normal component of the development and health of multicellular organisms. However, apoptosis is now considered a prerogative of unicellular organisms, including the trypanosomatids of the genera Trypanosoma spp. and Leishmania spp., causative agents of some of the most important neglected human diseases. Trypanosomatids show typical hallmarks of apoptosis, although they lack some of the key molecules contributing to this process in metazoans, like caspase genes, Bcl-2 family genes and the TNF-related family of receptors. Despite the lack of these molecules, trypanosomatids appear to have the basic machinery to commit suicide. The components of the apoptotic execution machinery of these parasites are slowly coming into light, by targeting essential processes and pathways with different apoptogenic agents and inhibitors. This review will be confined to the events known to drive trypanosomatid parasites to apoptosis.
Apoptosis has a role in many medical disorders, therefore assessment of apoptosis in vivo can be highly useful for diagnosis, follow-up and evaluation of treatment efficacy. ApoSense is a novel technology, comprising low molecular-weight probes, specifically designed for imaging of cell death in vivo. In the current study we present targeting and imaging of cell death both in vitro and in vivo, utilizing NST-732, a member of the ApoSense family, comprising a fluorophore and a fluorine atom, for both fluorescent and future positron emission tomography (PET) studies using an 18F label, respectively. In vitro, NST-732 manifested selective and rapid accumulation within various cell types undergoing apoptosis. Its uptake was blocked by caspase inhibition, and occurred from the early stages of the apoptotic process, in parallel to binding of Annexin-V, caspase activation and alterations in mitochondrial membrane potential. In vivo, NST-732 manifested selective uptake into cells undergoing cell-death in several clinically-relevant models in rodents: (i) Cell-death induced in lymphoma by irradiation; (ii) Renal ischemia/reperfusion; (iii) Cerebral stroke. Uptake of NST-732 was well-correlated with histopathological assessment of cell-death. NST-732 therefore represents a novel class of small-molecule detectors of apoptosis, with potential useful applications in imaging of the cell death process both in vitro and in vivo.
Apoptosis; Cell death; Imaging; Chemotherapy; ApoSense
An expanding body of evidence demonstrates that cells undergoing apoptosis send out a selection of molecular navigational signals including proteins, lipids and nucleotides that serve to recruit phagocytes to the dying targets, which are subsequently engulfed and removed. This homeostatic process is essentially non-phlogistic, contrasting markedly with the acute inflammatory responses elicited in phagocytes by damaging or infectious agents. The “professional” scavengers of apoptotic cells are mononuclear phagocytes—the macrophages—and sites of high-rate apoptosis are clearly characterized by macrophages associated with the apoptotic cells. By contrast, members of the other class of professional phagocytes—the granulocytes—are not recruited to sites of apoptosis as a direct consequence of the cell-death program. Indeed, recent work indicates that apoptotic cells release a mixture of migratory cues to leukocytes in order to selectively attract mononuclear phagocytes but not granulocytes through functional balancing of positive and negative signals. Here we discuss these molecular mechanisms that not only serve as migratory cues but also may activate responding phagocytes to engulf apoptotic cells effectively. Finally, we speculate upon new therapeutic opportunities these mechanisms offer for a range of pathological conditions, including inflammatory disorders and cancer.
apoptosis; migration; chemotaxis; macrophage; monocyte; granulocyte; phagocytosis; lactoferrin; ATP; fractalkine
In recent years, molecular imaging gained significant importance in biomedical research. Optical imaging developed into a modality which enables the visualization and quantification of all kinds of cellular processes and cancerous cell growth in small animals. Novel gene reporter mice and cell lines and the development of targeted and cleavable fluorescent “smart” probes form a powerful imaging toolbox. The development of systems collecting tomographic bioluminescence and fluorescence data enabled even more spatial accuracy and more quantitative measurements. Here we describe various bioluminescent and fluorescent gene reporter models and probes that can be used to specifically image and quantify neovascularization or the angiogenic process itself.
Angiogenesis; Bioluminescence; Fluorescence; Molecular imaging; Optical imaging
A cell undergoing apoptosis demonstrates multitude of characteristic morphological and biochemical features, which vary depending on the inducer of apoptosis, cell type and the “time window” at which the process of apoptosis is observed. Because the gross majority of apoptotic hallmarks can be revealed by flow and image cytometry, the cytometric methods become a technology of choice in diverse studies of cellular demise. Variety of cytometric methods designed to identify apoptotic cells, detect particular events of apoptosis and probe mechanisms associated with this mode of cell death have been developed during the past two decades. In the present review, we outline commonly used methods that are based on the assessment of mitochondrial transmembrane potential, activation of caspases, DNA fragmentation, and plasma membrane alterations. We also present novel developments in the field such as the use of cyanine SYTO and TO-PRO family of probes. Strategies of selecting the optimal multiparameter approaches, as well as potential difficulties in the experimental procedures, are thoroughly summarized.
Inhibition of apoptosis leads to activation of cell survival factors (e.g., AKT) causes continuous cell proliferation in cancer. Apoptosis, the major form of cellular suicide, is central to various physiological processes and the maintenance of homeostasis in multicellular organisms. A number of discoveries have clarified the molecular mechanism of apoptosis, thus clarifying the link between apoptosis and cell survival factors, which has a therapeutic outcome. Induction of apoptosis and inhibition of cell survival by anticancer agents has been shown to correlate with tumor response. Cellular damage induces growth arrest and tumor suppression by inducing apoptosis, necrosis and senescence; the mechanism of cell death depends on the magnitude of DNA damage following exposure to various anticancer agents. Apoptosis is mainly regulated by cell survival and proliferating signaling molecules. As a new therapeutic strategy, alternative types of cell death might be exploited to control and eradicate cancer cells. This review discusses the signaling of apoptosis and cell survival, as well as the potential contribution of marine bioactive compounds, suggesting that new therapeutic strategies might follow.
apoptosis; cell survival; AKT; Bax; marine compounds
Apoptosis, programmed cell death, is an essential feature of normal placental development but is exaggerated in association with placental disease. Placental development relies upon effective implantation and invasion of the maternal decidua by the placental trophoblast. In normal pregnancy, trophoblast apoptosis increases with placental growth and advancing gestation. However, apoptosis is notably exaggerated in the pregnancy complications, hydatidiform mole, pre-eclampsia, and intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR). Placental apoptosis may be initiated by a variety of stimuli, including hypoxia and oxidative stress. In common with other cell-types, trophoblast apoptosis follows the extrinsic or intrinsic pathways culminating in the activation of caspases. In contrast, the formation of apoptotic bodies is less clearly identified, but postulated by some to involve the clustering of apoptotic nuclei and liberation of this material into the maternal circulation. In addition to promoting a favorable maternal immune response, the release of this placental-derived material is thought to provoke the endothelial dysfunction of pre-eclampsia. Widespread apoptosis of the syncytiotrophoblast may also impair trophoblast function leading to the reduction in nutrient transport seen in IUGR. A clearer understanding of placental apoptosis and its regulation may provide new insights into placental pathologies, potentially suggesting therapeutic targets.
Apoptosis; IUGR; pre-eclampsia; trophoblast
Apoptosis is required for normal cellular homeostasis and deregulation of the apoptotic process is implicated in various diseases. Previously, we developed a cell-penetrating near-infrared fluorescence (NIF) probe based on an activatable strategy to detect apoptosis-associated caspase activity in vivo. This probe consisted of a cell-penetrating Tat peptide conjugated to an effector recognition sequence (DEVD) that was flanked by a fluorophore-quencher pair (Alexa Fluor 647 and QSY 21). Once exposed to effector caspases, the recognition sequence was cleaved, resulting in separation of the fluorophore-quencher pair and signal generation. Herein, we present biochemical analysis of a second generation probe, KcapQ, with a modified cell-penetrating peptide sequence (KKKRKV). This modification resulted in a probe that was more sensitive to effector caspase enzymes, displayed an unexpectedly higher quenching efficiency between the fluorophore-quencher pair, and was potentially less toxic to cells. Assays using recombinant caspase enzymes revealed that the probe was specific for effector caspases (caspase 3>7>6). Analysis of apoptosis in HeLa cells treated with doxorubicin showed probe activation specific to apoptotic cells. In a rat model of retinal neuronal excitotoxicity, intravitreal injection of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) induced apoptosis of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs). Eyecup and retinal flat mount images of NMDA-pretreated animals injected intravitreally with KcapQ using a clinically-applicable protocol showed specific and widely-distributed cell-associated fluorescence signals compared to untreated control animals. Fluorescence microscopy images of vertical retinal sections from NMDA-pretreated animals confirmed that activated probe was predominantly localized to RGCs and co-localized with TUNEL labeling. Thus, KcapQ represents an improved effector caspase-activatable NIF probe for enhanced non-invasive analysis of apoptosis in whole cells and live animals.
Caspase; apoptosis; near-infrared fluorescence; cell-penetrating peptide; retinal ganglion cell; NMDA; molecular imaging
The Molecular Imaging and Contrast Agents Database (MICAD) was launched in 2005 to promote the development and application of imaging and contrast agents (probes) to advance the field of molecular imaging. As of March 2012, there are approximately 1170 agents available in MICAD. Based on the modality used for imaging, the largest category of probes described in MICAD are those used for PET (41.6%), followed by agents used for single-photon emission computed tomography (30.3%), optical imaging (12.0%), MRI (9.3%), multimodality imaging (3.4%), ultrasound (2.4%) and x-ray/computed tomography (1.0%). This article is intended to be a guideline for new investigators and students who wish to characterize an optical imaging probe that will be used to perform in vivo molecular imaging studies. It is necessary, however, to ensure that these agents meet certain quality control parameters before they are used in various in vitro and in vivo applications.
characterization; dyes; MICAD; molecular imaging; nanoparticles; near-infrared fluorescence; NIR; optical imaging; organic fluorophores; targeted optical probes