Long-term direct visualization of passively transferred fluorophore-conjugated antibodies

Jeffrey R. Schneider, Ann M. Carias, Arangaserry R. Bastian, Gianguido C. Cianci, Patrick F. Kiser, Ronald S. Veazey, Thomas J. Hope*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


The use of therapeutic antibodies, delivered by intravenous (IV) instillation, is a rapidly expanding area of biomedical treatment for a variety of conditions. However, little is known about how the antibodies are anatomically distributed following infusion and the underlying mechanism mediating therapeutic antibody distribution to specific anatomical sites remains to be elucidated. Current efforts utilize low resolution and sensitivity methods such as ELISA and indirect labeling imaging techniques, which often leads to high background and difficulty in assessing biodistribution. Here, using the in vivo non-human primate model, we demonstrate that it is possible to utilize the fluorophores Cy5 and Cy3 directly conjugated to antibodies for direct visualization and quantification of passively transferred antibodies in plasma, tissue, and in mucosal secretions. Antibodies were formulated with 1–2 fluorophores per antibody to minimally influence antibody function. Fluorophore conjugated Gamunex-C (pooled human IgG) were tested for binding to protein A, via surface plasmon resonance, and showed similar levels of binding when compared to unlabeled Gamunex-C. In order to assess the effect fluorophore labeling has on turnover and localization, rhesus macaques were IV infused with either labeled or unlabeled Gamunex-C. Plasma, vaginal Weck-Cel fluid, cervicovaginal mucus, and vaginal/rectal tissue biopsies were collected up to 8 weeks. Similar turnover and biodistribution was observed between labeled and unlabeled antibodies, showing that the labeling process did not have an obvious deleterious effect on localization or turnover. Cy5 and Cy3 labeled antibodies were readily detected in the same pattern regardless of fluorophore. Tissue distribution was measured in macaque vaginal and rectal biopsies. The labeled antibody in macaque biopsies was found to have similar biodistribution pattern to endogenous antibodies in macaque and human tissues. In the vaginal and rectal mucosa, endogenous and infused antibodies were found primarily within the lamina propria. In the mucosal squamous epithelium of the vaginal vault, significant antibody was also observed in a striated pattern in the superficial, nonviable, stratum corneum. Endogenous antibody distribution in both human and macaque squamous tissues exhibited a similar pattern as seen with the labeled and unlabeled antibodies. This proof-of-principle study reveals that the labeled antibody is stable and physiologically similar relative to endogenous antibody setting the stage for future work to better understand the mechanisms of how antibodies reach unique anatomical sites. Direct visualization of fluorophore-conjugated antibodies following passive infusion can be utilized to assess the kinetics of biodistribution of infused antibodies and may be a useful approach to monitor and predict efficacy of therapeutic antibodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
StatePublished - Nov 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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