In vivo imaging of early stage apoptosis by measuring real-time caspase-3/7 activation

Apoptosis : an International Journal on Programmed Cell Death
Matteo ScabiniEnrico Pesenti


In vivo imaging of apoptosis in a preclinical setting in anticancer drug development could provide remarkable advantages in terms of translational medicine. So far, several imaging technologies with different probes have been used to achieve this goal. Here we describe a bioluminescence imaging approach that uses a new formulation of Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin, a caspase 3/7 substrate, to monitor in vivo apoptosis in tumor cells engineered to express luciferase. Upon apoptosis induction, Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin is cleaved by caspase 3/7 releasing aminoluciferin that is now free to react with luciferase generating measurable light. Thus, the activation of caspase 3/7 can be measured by quantifying the bioluminescent signal. Using this approach, we have been able to monitor caspase-3 activation and subsequent apoptosis induction after camptothecin and temozolomide treatment on xenograft mouse models of colon cancer and glioblastoma, respectively. Treated mice showed more than 2-fold induction of Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin luminescent signal when compared to the untreated group. Combining D: -luciferin that measures the total tumor burden, with Z-DEVD-aminoluciferin that assesses apoptosis induction via caspase activation, we confirmed that i...Continue Reading


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Apoptosis is a specific process that leads to programmed cell death through the activation of an evolutionary conserved intracellular pathway leading to pathognomic cellular changes distinct from cellular necrosis

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