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Recent treatment developments for metastatic renal cell carcinoma offer combinations of immunotherapies or immunotherapy associated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI). There is currently no argument to choose one solution or another. Easy-to-use markers to assess longitudinal responses to TKI are necessary to determine when to switch to immunotherapies. These new markers will enable an earlier adaptation of therapeutic strategy in order to prevent tumor development, unnecessary toxicity and financial costs. This study evaluates the potential of ultrasound molecular imaging to track the response to sunitinib in a clear cell renal carcinoma model (ccRCC). We used a patient-derived xenograft model for this imaging study. Mice harboring human ccRCC were randomized for sunitinib treatment vs. control. The tumors were imaged at days 0, 7, 14 and 28 with ultrasound molecular imaging. Signal enhancement was quantified and compared between the two groups after injections of non-targeted microbubbles and microbubbles targeting VEGFR1 and FSHR. The tumor growth of the sunitinib group was significantly slower. There was a significantly lower expression of both VEGFR-1 and FSHR molecular ultrasound imaging signals in the sunitinib group at all times of treatment (Days 7, 14 and 28). These results confirm the study hypothesis. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups for the non-targeted microbubble ultrasound signal. This study demonstrated for the first time the potential of VEGFR1 and FSHR, by ultrasound-based molecular imaging, to follow-up the longitudinal response to sunitinib in ccRCC. These results should trigger developments for clinical applications.


Alexandre Ingels, Ingrid Leguerney, Paul-Henry Cournède, Jacques Irani, Sophie Ferlicot, Catherine Sébrié, Baya Benatsou, Laurène Jourdain, Stephanie Pitre-Champagnat, Jean-Jacques Patard, Nathalie Lassau. Ultrasound Molecular Imaging of Renal Cell Carcinoma: VEGFR targeted therapy monitored with VEGFR1 and FSHR targeted microbubbles. Scientific reports. 2020 Apr 30;10(1):7308

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PMID: 32355171

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