Comparison of a Short Versus Long Stokes Shift Near-Infrared Dye During Intraoperative Molecular Imaging

Christopher J. Corbett, Lydia G. Frenzel Sulyok, Jarrod D. Predina, Andrew D. Newton, Mitchell G. Bryski, Leilei Xia, Jason Stadanlick, Michael H. Shin, Sakkarapalayam M. Mahalingam, Philip S. Low, Sunil Singhal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Intraoperative molecular imaging (IMI) utilizes optical dyes that accumulate within tumors to assist with detection during a cancer operation. IMI can detect disease not visualized preoperatively, as well as positive margins. However, these dyes are limited by autofluorescence, signal reflection, and photon-scatter. We hypothesize that a novel dye with a wide separation between excitation and emission spectra, SS180, would help overcome these obstacles. Procedures: Two targeted molecular contrast agents, OTL38 and SS180, were selected for this study. Both dyes had the same targeting ligand to folate receptor alpha (FRα). OTL38, a well-annotated IMI agent in human trials, has a Stokes shift of 22 nm, whereas SS180, the new dye, has a Stokes shift of 129 nm. Cell lines were tested for FRα expression and incubated with dyes to demonstrate receptor-dependent binding. Cells were incubated in various concentrations of the dyes to compare dose- and time-dependent binding. Finally, cells tagged with the dyes were injected subcutaneously in a murine model to estimate tumor burden necessary to generate fluorescent signal. Results: Cellular studies demonstrated that SS180 binds cells in a dose-, receptor-, and time-dependent manner and exhibits higher mean fluorescence intensities by flow cytometry when compared with OTL38 for each time point and concentration. In an in vivo flank tumor model, SS180 had a higher tumor-to-background ratio (TBR) than OTL38, though not statistically significant (p = 0.08). Ex vivo, OTL38 had a higher TBR than SS180 (p = 0.02). The subcutaneous model revealed that SS180 had a higher TBR at 5 × 106 cells than OTL38 (p = 0.05). No toxicity was observed in the animals. Conclusions: SS180 exhibits greater TBRs in vivo, but not ex vivo. These findings suggest that SS180 may have weaker fluorescence, but superior contrast. Studies in large animal models and clinical trials may better elucidate the clinical value of a long Stokes shift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)144-155
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Imaging and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


  • Dye
  • Fluorescence
  • Imaging
  • Oncology
  • Small molecule
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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