Photoacoustic monitoring of oxygenation changes induced by therapeutic ultrasound in murine hepatocellular carcinoma

Mrigendra B. Karmacharya, Laith R. Sultan, Chandra M. Sehgal
Scientific Reports2021
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a highly vascular solid tumor. We have previously shown that ultrasound (US) therapy significantly reduces tumor vascularity. This study monitors US-induced changes in tumor oxygenation on murine HCC by photoacoustic imaging (PAI). Oxygen saturation and total hemoglobin were assessed by PAI before and after US treatments performed at different intensities of continuous wave (CW) bursts and pulsed wave (PW) bursts US. PAI revealed significant reduction both in HCC oxygen saturation and in total hemoglobin, proportional to the US intensity. Both CW bursts US (1.6 W/cm2) and the PW bursts US (0.8 W/cm2) significantly reduced HCC oxygen saturation and total hemoglobin which continued to diminish with time following the US treatment. The effects of US therapy were confirmed by power Doppler and histological examination of the hemorrhage in tumors. By each measure, the changes observed in US-treated HCC were more prevalent than those in sham-treated tumors and were statistically significant. In conclusion, the results show that US is an effective vascular-targeting therapy for HCC. The changes in oxygenation induced by the US treatment can be noninvasively monitored longitudinally by PAI without the use of exogenous image-enhancing agents. The combined use of PAI and the therapeutic US has potential for image-guided vascular therapy for HCC.

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