Photoacoustic imaging biomarkers for monitoring biophysical changes during nanobubble-mediated radiation treatment

Eno Hysi, Muhannad N. Fadhel, Yanjie Wang, Joseph A. Sebastian, Anoja Giles, Gregory J. Czarnota, Agata A. Exner, Michael C. Kolios
The development of novel anticancer therapies warrants the parallel development of biomarkers that can quantify their effectiveness. Photoacoustic imaging has the potential to measure changes in tumor vasculature during treatment. Establishing the accuracy of imaging biomarkers requires direct comparisons with gold histological standards. In this work, we explore whether a new class of submicron, vascular disrupting, ultrasonically stimulated nanobubbles enhance radiation therapy. In vivo experiments were conducted on mice bearing prostate cancer tumors. Combined nanobubble plus radiation treatments were compared against conventional microbubbles and radiation alone (single 8 Gy fraction). Acoustic resolution photoacoustic imaging was used to monitor the effects of the treatments 2- and 24-hs post-administration. Histological examination provided metrics of tumor vascularity and tumoral cell death, both of which were compared to photoacoustic-derived biomarkers. Photoacoustic metrics of oxygen saturation reveal a 20 % decrease in oxygenation within 24 h post-treatment. The spectral slope metric could separate the response of the nanobubble treatments from the microbubble counterparts. This study shows that histopathological assessment correlated well with photoacoustic biomarkers of treatment response.

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