Assessment of molecular signatures of tumors in addition to their anatomy and morphology is desired for effective diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. Development of in vivo imaging techniques that can identify and monitor molecular composition of tumors remains an important challenge in pre-clinical research and medical practice. Here we present a molecular photoacoustic imaging technique that can visualize the presence and activity of an important cancer biomarker – epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), utilizing the effect of plasmon resonance coupling between molecular targeted gold nanoparticles. Specifically, spectral analysis of photoacoustic images revealed profound changes in the optical absorption of systemically delivered EGFR-targeted gold nanospheres due to their molecular interactions with tumor cells overexpressing EGFR. In contrast, no changes in optical properties and, therefore, photoacoustic signal, were observed after systemic delivery of non-targeted gold nanoparticles to the tumors. The results indicate that multi-wavelength photoacoustic imaging augmented with molecularly targeted gold nanoparticles has the ability to monitor molecular specific interactions between nanoparticles and cell-surface receptors, allowing visualization of the presence and functional activity of tumor cells. Furthermore, the approach can be used for other cancer cell-surface receptors such as human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). Therefore, ultrasound-guided molecular photoacoustic imaging can potentially aid in tumor diagnosis, selection of customized patient-specific treatment, and monitor the therapeutic progression and outcome in vivo.
Selection and design of individualized treatments remains a key goal in cancer therapeutics; prediction of response and tumor recurrence following a given therapy provides a basis for subsequent personalized treatment design. We demonstrate an approach towards this goal with the example of photodynamic therapy (PDT) as the treatment modality and photoacoustic imaging (PAI) as a non-invasive, response and disease recurrence monitor in a murine model of glioblastoma (GBM). PDT is a photochemistry-based, clinically-used technique that consumes oxygen to generate cytotoxic species, thus causing changes in blood oxygen saturation (StO2). We hypothesize that this change in StO2 can be a surrogate marker for predicting treatment efficacy and tumor recurrence. PAI is a technique that can provide a 3D atlas of tumor StO2 by measuring oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin. We demonstrate that tumors responding to PDT undergo approximately 85% change in StO2 by 24-hrs post-therapy while there is no significant change in StO2 values in the non-responding group. Furthermore, the 3D tumor StO2 maps predicted whether a tumor was likely to regrow at a later time point post-therapy. Information on the likelihood of tumor regrowth that normally would have been available only upon actual regrowth (10-30 days post treatment) in a xenograft tumor model, was available within 24-hrs of treatment using PAI, thus making early intervention a possibility. Given the advances and push towards availability of PAI in the clinical settings, the results of this study encourage applicability of PAI as an important step to guide and monitor therapies (e.g. PDT, radiation, anti-angiogenic) involving a change in StO2.
The need for patient-specific photodynamic therapy (PDT) in dermatologic and oncologic applications has triggered several studies that explore the utility of surrogate parameters as predictive reporters of treatment outcome. Although photosensitizer (PS) fluorescence, a widely used parameter, can be viewed as emission from several fluorescent states of the PS (e.g., minimally aggregated and monomeric), we suggest that singlet oxygen luminescence (SOL) indicates only the active PS component responsible for the PDT. Here, the ability of discrete PS fluorescence-based metrics (absolute and percent PS photobleaching and PS re-accumulation post-PDT) to predict the clinical phototoxic response (erythema) resulting from 5-aminolevulinic acid PDT was compared with discrete SOL (DSOL)-based metrics (DSOL counts pre-PDT and change in DSOL counts pre/post-PDT) in healthy human skin. Receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analyses demonstrated that absolute fluorescence photobleaching metric (AFPM) exhibited the highest area under the curve (AUC) of all tested parameters, including DSOL based metrics. The combination of dose-metrics did not yield better AUC than AFPM alone. Although sophisticated real-time SOL measurements may improve the clinical utility of SOL-based dosimetry, discrete PS fluorescence-based metrics are easy to implement, and our results suggest that AFPM may sufficiently predict the PDT outcomes and identify treatment nonresponders with high specificity in clinical contexts.
A first approach toward understanding the targeted design of molecular photoacoustic contrast agents (MPACs) is presented. Optical and photoacoustic Z-scan spectroscopy was used to identify how nonlinear (excitedstate) absorption contributes to enhancing the photoacoustic emission of the curcuminBF2 and bis-styryl (MeOPh)2BODIPY dyes relative to Cy3.
Gold nanoparticles targeting epidermal growth factor receptor via antibody conjugation undergo molecular specific aggregation when they bind to receptors on cell surfaces, leading to a red shift in their plasmon resonance frequency. Capitalizing on this effect, we demonstrate the efficacy of the molecular specific photoacoustic imaging technique using subcutaneous tumor-mimicking gelatin implants in ex-vivo mouse tissue. The results of our study suggest that highly selective and sensitive detection of cancer cells is possible using multiwavelength photoacoustic imaging and molecular specific gold nanoparticles.
The beam profiles of pulsed lasers are currently measured using either complementary metal oxide semiconductor(CMOS) or charge coupled device(CCD) cameras. Despite providing high-resolution beam profiles, these devices cannot work with high power lasers. If additional optical attenuators are used, beam distortions may occur. In this paper we demonstrate a high-resolution photoacoustic technique capable of measuring the beam profile of pulsed lasers. The beam profiles of a pulsed neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet(Nd:YAG) laser and a pulsed optical parametric oscillator(OPO) laser system were measured using a polydimethylsiloxane film and a single element high-frequency ultrasonic transducer. The advantages and limitations of the developed photoacoustic technique are discussed.