Light fluence inside turbid media can be experimentally mapped by measuring ultrasonically modulated light (Acousto-optics). To demonstrate the feasibility of fluence corrected Photoacoustic (PA) imaging, we have realized a tri-modality (i.e. photoacoustic, acousto-optic and ultrasound) tomographic small animal imaging system. Wherein PA imaging provides high resolution map of absorbed optical energy density, Acousto-optics yields the fluence distribution map in the corresponding PA imaging plane and Ultrasound provides morphological information. Further, normalization of the PA image with the acousto-optically measured fluence map results in an image that directly represents the optical absorption.
Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) is commonly found overexpressed in human cancers, among which breast cancers, resulting in a more aggressive tumor phenotype. Identification of HER2-expression is clinically relevant, because cancers overexpressing this marker are amenable to HER2-directed therapies, among which antibodies trastuzumab and pertuzumab. Here, we investigate the feasibility and advantage of acousto-optically assisted fluence compensated PA imaging over PA imaging alone in visualizing and quantifying HER2 expression. For this experiment, nude mice were xenografted with human breast cancer cell lines SKBR3 and BT474 (both HER2 overexpressing), as well as HER2-negative MDA-MB-231. To visualize HER2 expression in these mice, HER2 monoclonal antibody pertuzumab (Perjeta®, Roche), was conjugated to near-infrared dye IRDye 800CW (800CW, LICOR Biosciences) at a ratio of 1∶2 antibody to 800CW. When xenograft tumors measured ≥ 100 mm3, mice received 100 µg 800CW-pertuzumab intravenously. Three days post injection, mice were scanned for fluorescence signal with an IVIS scanner. After fluorescence scans, mice were euthanized and imaged in our PA tomographic imaging system.