Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 877–887 | Cite as

Near-Infrared Fluorescence Imaging of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma CD20 Expression Using Cy7-Conjugated Obinutuzumab

  • Xinfeng Lin
  • Hua Zhu
  • Zheng Luo
  • Ye Hong
  • Hong Zhang
  • Xijuan Liu
  • Huirong Ding
  • Huifang Tian
  • Zhi YangEmail author
Research Article



Obinutuzumab is the first fully humanized and glycoengineered monoclonal antibody (mAb) directly targeting CD20 antigen, which is expressed on B cell lymphocytes and the majority of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). This study aims to design a diagnostic molecular probe, Cy7-Obinutuzumab (Cy7-Obi), in which Cy7 is a near-infrared fluorescent dye. This probe is used to noninvasively image CD20 antigen expressed in NHL cells.


Cy7-Obi probe was synthesized through nucleophilic substitution reaction between NHS-Cy7 and obinutuzumab. After purification, the conjugate was fully characterized by a series of methods. The immunoreactivity and molecular specificity of the probe were confirmed using flow cytometry and in vitro microscopy on Raji (CD20-positive) cells. For in vivo imaging, Cy7-Obi probe (1 nmol) was injected intravenously in severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice bearing Raji tumors which overexpress CD20 (n = 3) and was imaged with near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) at 6, 9, 12, 24, 60, and 96 h post-probe injection. For pre-block, obinutuzumab (3.25 mg) was injected intravenously in tumor-bearing mice 6 h before the administration of Cy7-Obi probe.


The synthesized Cy7-Obi probe in this paper mimics obinutuzumab in both structure and function. Flow cytometry analysis of the probe and obinutuzumab on Raji cells showed minor difference in binding affinity/specificity with CD20. The probe showed significant fluorescence signal when it was examined on Raji cells using in vitro microscopy. The fluorescence signal can be blocked by pretreatment with obinutuzumab. The probe Cy7-Obi also showed high tumor uptake when it was examined by in vivo optical imaging on Raji tumor-bearing mice. The tumor uptake can be blocked by pretreatment with obinutuzumab (n = 3, p < 0.05). The in vivo imaging results were also confirmed by ex vivo imaging of dissected organs. Finally, the probe Cy7-Obi has shown excellent tumor targeting and specificity through immunofluorescence analysis.


We have shown that humanized Cy7-Obi probe can be used for NIRF imaging successfully. The probe may be an effective and noninvasive diagnostic molecular probe capable of tracking CD20 overexpression in NHL.

Key words

Near-infrared fluorescence imaging Cyanine dye indotricarbocyanine CD20 Obinutuzumab Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma 



We thank the staff in Central Laboratory and Laboratory Animal Unit at Peking University Cancer Hospital & Institute and Dr. Xiaolong Liang in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the College of Engineering in Peking University for instrumentation support and analysis. This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81071198, No. 81172083, No. 81371592), Beijing Natural Science Foundation (No. 7132040), and Peking University Cancer Hospital& Institute Research Foundation (2013 ZiZhu 12).

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Supplementary material

11307_2014_742_MOESM1_ESM.docx (241 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 240 kb)


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Copyright information

© World Molecular Imaging Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xinfeng Lin
    • 1
  • Hua Zhu
    • 1
  • Zheng Luo
    • 1
  • Ye Hong
    • 2
  • Hong Zhang
    • 3
  • Xijuan Liu
    • 3
  • Huirong Ding
    • 3
  • Huifang Tian
    • 3
  • Zhi Yang
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education), Department of Nuclear MedicinePeking University Cancer Hospital & InstituteBeijingChina
  2. 2.China Institute of Atomic EnergyBeijingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Translational Research (Ministry of Education), Central LaboratoryPeking University Cancer Hospital & InstituteBeijingChina

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