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Acidification of extracellular space promotes tumor development, progression, and invasiveness. pH (low) insertion peptides (pHLIP® peptides) belong to the class of pH-sensitive membrane peptides, which target acidic tumors and deliver imaging and/or therapeutic agents to cancer cells within tumors.


Ex vivo
fluorescent imaging of tissue and organs collected at various time points after administration of different pHLIP® variants conjugated with fluorescent dyes of various polarity was performed. Methods of multivariate statistical analyses were employed to establish classification between fluorescently labeled pHLIP® variants in multidimensional space of spectral parameters.


The fluorescently labeled pHLIP® variants were classified based on their biodistribution profile and ability of targeting of primary tumors. Also, submillimeter-sized metastatic lesions in lungs were identified by ex vivo imaging after intravenous administration of fluorescent pHLIP® peptide.


Different cargo molecules conjugated with pHLIP® peptides can alter biodistribution and tumor targeting. The obtained knowledge is essential for the design of novel pHLIP®-based diagnostic and therapeutic agents targeting primary tumors and metastatic lesions.


Natallia V. Katenka is from the Department of Computer Science and Statistics.

Ramona-Cosmina Adochite, Anna Moshnikoca, Jovana Golijanin, Oleg A. Andreev and Yana K. Reshetnyak are from the Department of Physics.