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Clare W. Teng, Vincent Huang, Gabriel R. Arguelles, Cecilia Zhou, Steve S. Cho, Stefan Harmsen, and John Y. K. Lee

Indocyanine green (ICG) is a water-soluble dye that was approved by the FDA for biomedical purposes in 1956. Initially used to measure cardiocirculatory and hepatic functions, ICG’s fluorescent properties in the near-infrared (NIR) spectrum soon led to its application in ophthalmic angiography. In the early 2000s, ICG was formally introduced in neurosurgery as an angiographic tool. In 2016, the authors’ group pioneered a novel technique with ICG named second-window ICG (SWIG), which involves infusion of a high dose of ICG (5.0 mg/kg) in patients 24 hours prior to surgery. To date, applications of SWIG have been reported in patients with high-grade gliomas, meningiomas, brain metastases, pituitary adenomas, craniopharyngiomas, chordomas, and pinealomas.

The applications of ICG have clearly expanded rapidly across different specialties since its initial development. As an NIR fluorophore, ICG has advantages over other FDA-approved fluorophores, all of which are currently in the visible-light spectrum, because of NIR fluorescence’s increased tissue penetration and decreased autofluorescence. Recently, interest in the latest applications of ICG in brain tumor surgery has grown beyond its role as an NIR fluorophore, extending into shortwave infrared imaging and integration into nanotechnology. This review aims to summarize reported clinical studies on ICG fluorescence–guided surgery of intracranial tumors, as well as to provide an overview of the literature on emerging technologies related to the utility of ICG in neuro-oncological surgeries, including the following aspects: 1) ICG fluorescence in the NIR-II window; 2) ICG for photoacoustic imaging; and 3) ICG nanoparticles for combined diagnostic imaging and therapy (theranostic) applications.

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Steve S. Cho, Jun Jeon, Love Buch, Shayoni Nag, MacLean Nasrallah, Philip S. Low, M. Sean Grady, Sunil Singhal, and John Y. K. Lee

OBJECTIVE

Intraoperative molecular imaging with tumor-targeted fluorescent dyes can enhance resection rates. In contrast to visible-light fluorophores (e.g., 5-aminolevulinic-acid), near-infrared (NIR) fluorophores have increased photon tissue penetration and less contamination from tissue autofluorescence. The second-window ICG (SWIG) technique relies on passive accumulation of indocyanine green (ICG) in neoplastic tissues. OTL38, conversely, targets folate receptor overexpression in nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas. In this study, we compare the properties of these 2 modalities for NIR imaging of pituitary adenomas to better understand the potential for NIR imaging in neurosurgery.

METHODS

A total of 39 patients with pituitary adenomas were enrolled between June 2015 and January 2018 in 2, sequential, IRB-approved studies. Sixteen patients received systemic ICG infusions 24 hours prior to surgery, and another 23 patients received OTL38 infusions 2–3 hours prior to surgery. NIR fluorescence signal-to-background ratio (SBR) was recorded during and after resection. Immunohistochemistry was performed on the 23 adenomas resected from patients who received OTL38 to assess expression of folate receptor–alpha (FRα).

RESULTS

All 16 adenomas operated on after ICG administration demonstrated strong NIR fluorescence (mean SBR 4.1 ± 0.69 [SD]). There was no statistically significant difference between the 9 functioning and 7 nonfunctioning adenomas (p = 0.9). After administration of OTL38, the mean SBR was 1.7 ± 0.47 for functioning adenomas, 2.6 ± 0.91 for all nonfunctioning adenomas, and 3.2 ± 0.53 for the subset of FRα-overexpressing adenomas. Tissue identification with white light alone for all adenomas demonstrated 88% sensitivity and 90% specificity. SWIG demonstrated 100% sensitivity but only 29% specificity for both functioning and nonfunctioning adenomas. OTL38 was 75% sensitive and 100% specific for all nonfunctioning adenomas, but when assessment was limited to the 9 FRα-overexpressing adenomas, the sensitivity and specificity of OTL38 were both 100%.

CONCLUSIONS

Intraoperative imaging with NIR fluorophores demonstrates highly sensitive detection of pituitary adenomas. OTL38, a folate-receptor–targeted fluorophore, is highly specific for nonfunctioning adenomas but has no utility in functioning adenomas. SWIG, which relies on passive diffusion into neoplastic tissue, is applicable to both functioning and nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas, but it is less specific than targeted fluorophores. Thus, targeted and nontargeted NIR fluorophores play important, yet distinct, roles in intraoperative imaging. Selectively and intelligently using either agent has the potential to greatly improve resection rates and outcomes for patients with intracranial tumors.

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Clare W. Teng, Steve S. Cho, Yash Singh, Emma De Ravin, Keren Somers, Love Buch, Steven Brem, Sunil Singhal, Edward J. Delikatny, and John Y. K. Lee

OBJECTIVE

Metastases are the most common intracranial malignancies and complete resection can provide relief of neurological symptoms and reduce recurrence. The authors’ prospective pilot study in 2017 demonstrated promising results for the application of high-dose, delayed imaging of indocyanine green (ICG), known as second window ICG (SWIG), in patients undergoing surgery for brain metastases. In this prospective cohort study, the authors evaluated intraoperative imaging and clinical outcomes of treatment using SWIG.

METHODS

Patients were prospectively enrolled in an approved study of high-dose, delayed ICG (SWIG) and received 5 mg/kg (2014–2018) or 2.5 mg/kg (2018–2019) ICG 24 hours preoperatively. Intraoperatively, near-infrared (NIR) imaging was performed using a dedicated NIR exoscope. NIR images were analyzed and the signal-to-background ratio (SBR) was calculated to quantify fluorescence. Residual fluorescence on the postresection NIR view was compared and correlated to the residual gadolinium enhancement on postoperative MRI. Patient survival and predictive factors were analyzed.

RESULTS

In total, 51 intracranial metastases were surgically treated in 47 patients in this cohort. All 51 metastatic tumors demonstrated strong NIR fluorescence (mean SBR 4.9). In tumors ≤ 10 mm from the cortical surface, SWIG with 5 mg/kg ICG produced enhanced transdural tumor visibility (91.3%) compared to 2.5 mg/kg (52.9%; p = 0.0047). Neoplastic margin detection using NIR fluorescence compared to white light improved sensitivity, albeit lowered specificity; however, increasing the SBR cutoff for positive fluorescence significantly improved specificity without sacrificing sensitivity, increasing the overall accuracy from 57.5% to 72.5%. A lack of residual NIR fluorescence after resection was closely correlated with a lack of residual enhancement on postoperative MRI (p = 0.007). Among the 16 patients in whom tumor recurred at the site of surgery, postoperative MRI successfully predicted 8 cases, whereas the postresection NIR view predicted 12 cases. Progression-free survival rate at 12 months was greater for patients without residual NIR fluorescence (38%) than for those without residual enhancement on postoperative MRI (29%).

CONCLUSIONS

The current study demonstrates the clinical benefits of the SWIG technique in surgery for patients with brain metastases. Specifically, this technique allows for dose-dependent, transdural localization of neoplasms and improved sensitivity in neoplastic margin detection. Postresection residual fluorescence can be a powerful tool to evaluate extent of resection in conjunction with MRI, and it may guide decisions on brain metastasis management.

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John Y. K. Lee, Steve S. Cho, Ryan Zeh, John T. Pierce, Maria Martinez-Lage, Nithin D. Adappa, James N. Palmer, Jason G. Newman, Kim O. Learned, Caitlin White, Julia Kharlip, Peter Snyder, Philip S. Low, Sunil Singhal, and M. Sean Grady

OBJECTIVE

Pituitary adenomas account for approximately 10% of intracranial tumors and have an estimated prevalence of 15%–20% in the general US population. Resection is the primary treatment for pituitary adenomas, and the transsphenoidal approach remains the most common. The greatest challenge with pituitary adenomas is that 20% of patients develop tumor recurrence. Current approaches to reduce recurrence, such as intraoperative MRI, are costly, associated with high false-positive rates, and not recommended. Pituitary adenomas are known to overexpress folate receptor alpha (FRα), and it was hypothesized that OTL38, a folate analog conjugated to a near-infrared (NIR) fluorescent dye, could provide real-time intraoperative visual contrast of the tumor versus the surrounding nonneoplastic tissues. The preliminary results of this novel clinical trial are presented.

METHODS

Nineteen adult patients who presented with pituitary adenoma were enrolled. Patients were infused with OTL38 2–4 hours prior to surgery. A 4-mm endoscope with both visible and NIR light capabilities was used to visualize the pituitary adenoma and its margins in real time during surgery. The signal-to-background ratio (SBR) was recorded for each tumor and surrounding tissues at various endoscope-to-sella distances. Immunohistochemical analysis was performed to assess the FRα expression levels in all specimens and classify patients as having either high or low FRα expression.

RESULTS

Data from 15 patients (4 with null cell adenomas, 1 clinically silent gonadotroph, 1 totally silent somatotroph, 5 with a corticotroph, 3 with somatotrophs, and 1 somatocorticotroph) were analyzed in this preliminary analysis. Four patients were excluded for technical considerations. Intraoperative NIR imaging delineated the main tumors in all 15 patients with an average SBR of 1.9 ± 0.70. The FRα expression level of the adenomas and endoscope-to-sella distance had statistically significant impacts on the fluorescent SBRs. Additional considerations included adenoma functional status and time from OTL38 injection. SBRs were 3.0 ± 0.29 for tumors with high FRα expression (n = 3) and 1.6 ± 0.43 for tumors with low FRα expression (n = 12; p < 0.05). In 3 patients with immunohistochemistry-confirmed FRα overexpression (2 patients with null cell adenoma and 1 patient with clinically silent gonadotroph), intraoperative NIR imaging demonstrated perfect classification of the tumor margins with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity. In addition, for these 3 patients, intraoperative residual fluorescence predicted postoperative MRI results with perfect concordance.

CONCLUSIONS

Pituitary adenomas and their margins can be intraoperatively visualized with the preoperative injection of OTL38, a folate analog conjugated to NIR dye. Tumor-to-background contrast is most pronounced in adenomas that overexpress FRα. Intraoperative SBR at the appropriate endoscope-to-sella distance can predict adenoma FRα expression status in real time. This work suggests that for adenomas with high FRα expression, it may be possible to identify margins and to predict postoperative MRI findings.