Liver metastases often progress from primary cancers including uveal melanoma (UM), breast, and colon cancer. Molecular biomarker imaging is a new non-invasive approach for detecting early stage tumors. Here, we report the elevated expression of chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in liver metastases in UM patients and metastatic UM mouse models, and development of a CXCR4-targeted MRI contrast agent, ProCA32.CXCR4, for sensitive MRI detection of UM liver metastases. ProCA32.CXCR4 exhibits high relaxivities (r1 = 30.9 mM−1 s−1, r2 = 43.2 mM−1 s−1, 1.5 T; r1 = 23.5 mM−1 s−1, r2 = 98.6 mM−1 s−1, 7.0 T), strong CXCR4 binding (Kd = 1.10 ± 0.18 μM), CXCR4 molecular imaging capability in metastatic and intrahepatic xenotransplantation UM mouse models. ProCA32.CXCR4 enables detecting UM liver metastases as small as 0.1 mm3. Further development of the CXCR4-targeted imaging agent should have strong translation potential for early detection, surveillance, and treatment stratification of liver metastases patients.
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