The interaction between the chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) and stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1, also known as CXCL12) is a natural regulatory process in the human body. However, CXCR4 over-expression is also found in diseases such as cancer, where it plays a role in, among others, the metastatic spread. For this reason it is an interesting biomarker for the field of diagnostic oncology, and therefore, it is gaining increasing interest for applications in molecular imaging. Especially “small-molecule” imaging agents based on T140, FC131 and AMD3100 have been extensively studied. SDF-1, antibodies, pepducins and bioluminescence have also been used to visualize CXCR4. In this critical review reported CXCR4 targeting imaging agents are described based on their affinity, specificity and biodistribution. The level wherein CXCR4 is up-regulated in cancer patients and its relation to the different cell lines and animal models used to evaluate the efficacy of the imaging agents is also discussed (221 references).
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