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MOLECULAR IMAGING OF TUMOR MICROENVIRONMENT
Mason R. P. 1, Zhao D. 1, Pacheco-Torres J. 1, Cui W. 1, Kodibagkar V. D. 1, Gulaka P. K. 1, Hao G. 1, Thorpe P. 1, Hahn E. W. 2, Peschke P.
1 Department of Radiology, U.T. Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX, USA;
2 DKFZ, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg
Hypoxia has long been recognized to influence solid tumor response to therapy. Increasingly, hypoxia has also been implicated in tumor aggressiveness, including growth, development and metastatic potential. Thus, there is a fundamental, as well as a clinical interest, in assessing in situ tumor hypoxia. This review will examine diverse approaches focusing on the preclinical setting, particularly, in rodents. The strategies are inevitably a compromise in terms of sensitivity, precision, temporal and spatial resolution, as well as cost, feasibility, ease and robustness of implementation. We will review capabilities of multiple modalities and examine what makes them particularly suitable for investigating specific aspects of tumor pathophysiology. Current approaches range from nuclear imaging to magnetic resonance and optical, with varying degrees of invasiveness and ability to examine spatial heterogeneity, as well as dynamic response to interventions. Ideally, measurements would be non-invasive, exploiting endogenous reporters to reveal quantitatively local oxygen tension dynamics. A primary focus of this review is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) based techniques, such as 19F MRI oximetry, which reveals not only hypoxia in vivo, but more significantly, spatial distribution of pO2 quantitatively, with a precision relevant to radiobiology. It should be noted that preclinical methods may have very different criteria for acceptance, as compared with potential investigations for prognostic radiology or predictive biomarkers suitable for use in patients.