Synthesis and pre-clinical evaluation of a [18F]fluoromethyl-tanaproget derivative for imaging of progesterone receptor expression†
The estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) are over-expressed in ∼50% of breast cancer lesions, and used as biomarkers to stratify patients for endocrine therapy. Currently, immunohistochemical (IHC) assessment of these lesions from a core-needle biopsy in deep-sited metastases has limitations associated with sampling error and lack of standardization. An alternative solution is positron emission tomography (PET)-based probes, which are inherently quantitative and capable of imaging the entire tumor, including metastases. This work features the synthesis and biological evaluation of a novel fluorinated derivative of tanaproget, a high affinity non-steroidal PR ligand, as a candidate for imaging PR expression in vivo. Radiolabeling of the candidate was achieved in a 15% ± 4 radiochemical yield (non-decay corrected) in one step from [18F]fluoromethyltosylate in 30 min. Cell uptake studies showed a significant difference between the radioligand uptake in PR+ and PR− cell lines; however, in vivo imaging was confounded by defluorination hypothesized to occur via iminium salt formation. Investigation into high affinity, metabolically stable non-steroidal PR ligands is currently ongoing.