Molecular application of spectral photoacoustic imaging in pancreatic cancer pathology

Minalini Lakshman, Clinton Hupple, Ines Lohse, David Hedley, Andrew Needles, Catherine Theodoropoulos
Proceedings of SPIE meeting,2012
Spectral imaging is an advanced photo-acoustic (PA) mode that can discern optical absorption of contrast agent(s) in the tissue micro-environment. This advancement is made possible by precise control of optical wavelength using a tunable pulsed laser, ranging from 680-970 nm. Differential optical absorption of blood oxygenation states makes spectral imaging of hemoglobin ideal to investigate remodeling of the tumor microenvironment- a molecular change that renders resistance to standard cancer treatment. Approach: Photo-acoustic imaging was performed on the Vevo® LAZR system (VisualSonics) at 5-20 Hz. Deep abdominal imaging was accomplished with a LZ250D probe at a center frequency of 21MHz and an axial resolution of 75 μm. The tumor model was generated in an immune compromised mouse by surgical implantation of primary patient derived tumors, in the pancreas. Results: Spectral imaging for oxygen saturation at 750 nm and 850 nm characterized this tumor with a poorly oxygenated core surrounded by a well oxygenated periphery. Multispectral imaging identified a sub region in the core with a four-fold signal exclusively at 750 and 800 nm. A co-registered 2D image of this region was shown to be echogenic and calcification was suspected. Perfusion imaging with contrast enhanced ultrasound using microbubbles (Vevo MicroMarker® contrast agents, VisualSonics) identified functional vessels towards this sub region. Histology confirmed calcification and vascularization in the tumor core. Taken together, non-invasive characterization of the tumor microenvironment using photo-acoustics rendered spectral imaging a sensitive tool to monitor molecular changes representative of progression of pancreatic cancer that kills within 6 months of diagnosis.

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