Improved techniques for breast cancer screening are critically needed as current methods lack diagnostic accuracy. Using spectroscopic photoacoustic (sPA) molecular imaging with a priori knowledge of optical absorption spectra allows suppression of endogenous background signal, increasing the overall sensitivity and specificity of the modality to exogenous contrast agents. Here, sPA imaging was used to monitor antibody-indocyanine green (ICG) conjugates as they undergo optical absorption spectrum shifts after cellular endocytosis and degradation to allow differentiation between normal murine mammary glands from breast cancer by enhancing molecular imaging signal from target (B7-H3)-bound antibody-ICG. First, B7-H3 was shown to have highly specific (AUC of 0.93) expression on both vascular endothelium and tumor stroma in malignant lesions through quantitative immunohistochemical staining of B7-H3 on 279 human samples (normal (n=53), benign lesions (11 subtypes, n=182), breast cancers (4 subtypes, n=97)), making B7-H3 a promising target for sPA imaging. Second, absorption spectra of intracellular and degraded B7-H3-ICG and Isotype control (Iso-ICG) were characterized through in vitro and in vivo experiments. Finally, a transgenic murine breast cancer model (FVB/N-Tg(MMTVPyMT)634Mul) was imaged, and sPA imaging in found a 3.01 (IQR 2.63, 3.38, P<0.001) fold increase in molecular B7-H3-ICG signal in tumors (n=80) compared to control conditions (B7-H3-ICG in tumor negative animals (n=60), Iso-ICG (n=30), blocking B7-H3+B7-H3-ICG (n=20), and free ICG (n=20)) despite significant tumor accumulation of Iso-ICG, confirmed through ex vivo histology. Overall, leveraging anti-B7-H3 antibody-ICG contrast agents, which have dynamic optical absorption spectra representative of molecular interactions, allows for highly specific sPA imaging of murine breast cancer.
Katheryne E. Wilson, Sunitha Bachawal, Lotfi Abou-Elkacem, Kristen C. Jensen, Steven Machtaler, Lu Tian, and Juergen K. Willmann, "Highly specific spectroscopic photoacoustic molecular imaging of dynamic optical absorption shifts of an antibody-ICG contrast agent (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10064, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2017, 100640X (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2017; Published: 24 April 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2253393.5379284478001.
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