Objectives Screening colonoscopy to monitor for early colitis-associated colon cancer (CAC) is difficult due to the aberrant mucosal patterns associated with long-standing colitis. The aim of this study was to develop a rapid fluorescent detection method for use during colonoscopy for improving the detection of CAC utilising a topically applied enzymatically activatable probe (gGlu-HMRG) which fluoresces in the presence of γ-glutamyltranspeptidase (GGT), an enzyme associated with cancer.
Methods Expression of GGT in colon cell lines was examined with fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. A mouse model (azoxymethane/dextran sulphate sodium) of CAC was used and mice were examined with white light and fluorescence colonoscopy before and after topical gGlu-HMRG administration.
Results Expression of GGT, although variable, was higher in human colon cancer cells than normal human colon cells. Using fluorescence colonoscopy in mice, gGlu-HMRG fluorescent lesions were detected 5 min after topical administration and fluorescence persisted for at least 30 min. Fluorescence guided biopsy revealed all fluorescent lesions that contained cancer or dysplasia (n=16), whereas three out of 12 non-fluorescent lesions contained low grade dysplasia and others did not contain neoplastic histology. Microscopic inflammatory infiltration also had variable fluorescence but in general was much lower (∼10-fold) in signal than cancer. Repeat fluorescence endoscopy allowed individual tumours to be monitored.
Conclusion These results suggest that gGlu-HMRG can improve endoscopic detection of CAC with a higher target to background ratio than conventional white light colonoscopy. This could be of benefit to patients with long-standing colitis who must undergo repeated screening colonoscopies.
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Funding This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the US National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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