To establish the relationship between MSOT derived imaging biomarkers and biological changes during tumor development, we performed MSOT on nude mice (n=10) bearing subcutaneous xenograft U87 glioblastoma tumors using a small animal optoacoustic tomography system. The mice were maintained under inhalation anesthesia during imaging and respired oxygen content was modified between 21% and 100%. The measurements from early (week 4) and late (week 7) stages of tumor development were compared. To further explore the functionality of the blood vessels, we examined the evolution of changes in the abundance of oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin in the tumors in response to a gas challenge. We found that the kinetics of the change in oxygen saturation (SO2) were significantly different between small tumors and the healthy blood vessels in nearby normal tissue (p=0.0054). Furthermore, we showed that there was a significant difference in the kinetics of the gas challenge between small and large tumors (p=0.0015). We also found that the tumor SO2 was significantly correlated (p=0.0057) with the tumor necrotic fraction as assessed by H&E staining in histology. In the future, this approach may be of use in the clinic as a method for tumor staging and assessment of treatment response.
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