Theranostics 2018; 8(12):3380-3391. doi:10.7150/thno.24017 This issue

Research Paper

Somatostatin receptor type 2 as a radiotheranostic PET reporter gene for oncologic interventions

Pedram Heidari*, Anchisa Kunawudhi*, Jordi Martinez-Quintanilla, Alicia Szretter, Khalid Shah, Umar Mahmood

Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
*Equal contribution

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) license ( See for full terms and conditions.
Heidari P, Kunawudhi A, Martinez-Quintanilla J, Szretter A, Shah K, Mahmood U. Somatostatin receptor type 2 as a radiotheranostic PET reporter gene for oncologic interventions. Theranostics 2018; 8(12):3380-3391. doi:10.7150/thno.24017. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Reporter gene systems can serve as therapy targets. However, the therapeutic use of reporters has been limited by the challenges of transgene delivery to a majority of cancer cells. This study specifically assesses the efficacy of targeting human somatostatin receptor subtype 2 (hSSTR2) with peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) when a small subpopulation of cells bears the transgene.

Methods: The hSSTR2 transgene was delivered to A549 and Panc-1tumors using the lentiviral vector, LV-hSSTR2-IRES-GFP or murine mesenchymal stem cells (mMSC)s using a retroviral vector. SSTR2 expression was assessed using Western blot and correlated to GFP fluorescence and 68Ga-DOTATOC uptake. Wild type (WT), transduced (TD), and mixed population A549 or Panc-1 xenografts were implanted in nude mice. Separate groups with A549WT and Panc-1WT tumors received intratumoral injection of SSTR2-expressing mMSCs. Tumor-bearing mice were treated with 90Y-DOTATOC or saline and evaluated with 68Ga-DOTATOC PET before and after treatment.

Results: Cell studies showed a strong correlation between 68Ga-DOTATOC uptake and SSTR2 expression in A549 (p < 0.004) and Panc-1 cells (p < 0.01). 68Ga-DOTATOC PET SUVmean was 8- and 5-fold higher in TD compared to WT A549 and Panc-1 tumors, respectively (p < 0.001). After 90Y-DOTATOC treatment, 100% TD and mixed population TD xenografts showed growth cessation while the WT xenografts did not. A549WT and Panc-1WT tumors with SSTR2-expressing mMSCs treated with 90Y-DOTATOC showed significantly lower tumor volumes compared to controls (p < 0.05). 68Ga-DOTATOC PET SUVmean of treated TD tumors monotonically declined and was significantly lower than that of non-treated xenografts.

Conclusions: We showed that SSTR2 delivery to a small population of cells in tumor in conjunction with PRRT is effective in tumor growth cessation. The availability of various transgene delivery methods for hSSTR2 and radiotherpaeutic somatostatin analogs highlights the direct translational potential of this paradigm in the treatment of various cancers.

Keywords: somatostatin receptor, theranostic, peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT), 68Ga-DOTATOC, reporter gene