Iodine-labeled m-iodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) is a widely used radiopharmaceutical for both diagnosis and biologically targeted radiotherapy of neuroblastoma. However, resistance to the radiotherapeutic effects of MIBG is often encountered, mainly due to lack of MIBG accumulation by neoplastic cells. We have investigated whether the induction of neuroblastoma cell differentiation modifies MIBG incorporation and retention. LAN-5 cells were selected, due to their moderate ability to take up MIBG. Treatment of these cells with γ-interferon (IFN-γ) resulted in morphological changes accompanied by a significant increase in overall cell-associated MIBG. Desimipramine, but not reserpine, easily depleted IFN-γ-treated LAN-5 cells of their MIBG content. This suggests that the mechanism involved is an uptake enhancement rather than an improved storage ability. Indeed, IFN-γ induces de novo synthesis of MIBG receptor-transporters, as demonstrated by polymerase chain reaction amplification and semiquantitative analysis. Our results suggest that pretreating neuroblastoma patients with IFN-γ before MIBG administration may enhance the efficacy of both biologically targeted radioimaging and therapy of this tumor.

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Supported by Ricerca Finalizzata Ministeriale Farmacogenetica and Associazione Italiana per la Ricerca sul Cancro (A.I.R.C.), Milan, Italy.

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