Antibody-guided in vivo imaging of Aspergillus fumigatus lung infections during antifungal azole treatment
Nat Commun. 2021 Mar 17;12(1):1707. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-21965-z.
Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) is a life-threatening lung disease of immunocompromised humans, caused by the opportunistic fungal pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. Inadequacies in current diagnostic procedures mean that early diagnosis of the disease, critical to patient survival, remains a major clinical challenge, and is leading to the empiric use of antifungal drugs and emergence of azole resistance. A non-invasive procedure that allows both unambiguous detection of IPA and its response to azole treatment is therefore needed. Here, we show that a humanised Aspergillus-specific monoclonal antibody, dual labelled with a radionuclide and fluorophore, can be used in immunoPET/MRI in vivo in a neutropenic mouse model and 3D light sheet fluorescence microscopy ex vivo in the infected mouse lungs to quantify early A. fumigatus lung infections and to monitor the efficacy of azole therapy. Our antibody-guided approach reveals that early drug intervention is critical to prevent complete invasion of the lungs by the fungus, and demonstrates the power of molecular imaging as a non-invasive procedure for tracking IPA in vivo.