Theranostics 2021; 11(1):304-315. doi:10.7150/thno.45540 This issue

Research Paper

PET imaging facilitates antibody screening for synergistic radioimmunotherapy with a 177Lu-labeled αPD-L1 antibody

Jingyun Ren1, Mengxin Xu2, Junyi Chen2, Jie Ding1, Peipei Wang1, Li Huo1✉, Fang Li1✉, Zhibo Liu2,3✉

1. Department of Nuclear Medicine, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Science & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing Key Laboratory of Molecular Targeted Diagnosis and Therapy in Nuclear Medicine, Beijing, China.
2. Radiochemistry and Radiation Chemistry Key Laboratory of Fundamental Science, Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences, College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, Peking University, Beijing, 100871, China.
3. Peking University-Tsinghua University Center for Life Sciences, Beijing, 100871, China.

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Ren J, Xu M, Chen J, Ding J, Wang P, Huo L, Li F, Liu Z. PET imaging facilitates antibody screening for synergistic radioimmunotherapy with a 177Lu-labeled αPD-L1 antibody. Theranostics 2021; 11(1):304-315. doi:10.7150/thno.45540. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Rationale: The low response rate of immunotherapy, such as anti-PD-L1/PD-1 and anti-CTLA4, has limited its application to a wider population of cancer patients. One widely accepted view is that inflammation within the tumor microenvironment is low or ineffective for inducing the sufficient infiltration and/or activation of lymphocytes. Here, a highly tumor-selective anti-PD-L1 (αPD-L1) antibody was developed through PET imaging screening, and it was radiolabeled with Lu-177 for PD-L1-targeted radioimmunotherapy (RIT) and radiation-synergized immunotherapy.

Methods: A series of αPD-L1 antibodies were radiolabeled with zirconium-89 for PET imaging to screen the most suitable antibodies for RIT. Mice were divided into an immunotherapy group, a RIT group and a radiation-synergized immunotherapy group to evaluate the therapeutic effect. Alterations in the tumor microenvironment after treatment were assessed using flow cytometry and immunofluorescence microscopy.

Results: Radiation-synergistic RIT can achieve a significantly better therapeutic effect than immunotherapy or RIT alone. The dosages of the radiopharmaceuticals and αPD-L1 antibodies were reduced, the infiltration of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells in the tumor microenvironment was increased, and no side effects were observed. This radiation-synergistic RIT strategy successfully showed a strong synergistic effect with αPD-L1 checkpoint blockade therapy, at least in the mouse model.

Conclusions: PET imaging of 89Zr-labeled antibodies is an effective method for antibody screening. RIT with a 177Lu-labeled αPD-L1 antibody could successfully upregulate antitumor immunity in the tumor microenvironment and turn “cold” tumors “hot” for immunotherapy.

Keywords: Immune checkpoint blockade (ICB), αPD-L1, Lutetium-177 (177Lu), Radioimmunotherapy (RIT), CD8+ T cell