Noninvasive optoacoustic microangiography reveals dose and size dependency of radiation-induced deep tumor vasculature remodeling

Tumor microvascular responses may provide a sensitive readout indicative of radiation therapy efficacy, its time course and dose dependencies. However, direct high-resolution observation and longitudinal monitoring of large-scale microvascular remodeling in deep tissues remained challenging with the conventional microscopy approaches.

We report on a non-invasive longitudinal study of morphological and functional neovascular responses by means of scanning optoacoustic (ОА) microangiography. In vivo imaging of CT26 tumor response to a single irradiation at varying dose (6, 12, and 18 Gy) has been performed over ten days following treatment. Tumor oxygenation levels were further estimated using diffuse optical spectroscopy (DOS) with a contact fiber probe.

OA revealed the formation of extended vascular structures on the whole tumor scale during its proliferation, whereas only short fragmented vascular regions were identified following irradiation. On the first day post treatment, a decrease in the density of small (capillary-sized) and medium-sized vessels was revealed, accompanied by an increase in their fragmentation. Larger vessels exhibited an increase in their density accompanied by a decline in the number of vascular segments. Short-lasting response has been observed after 6 and 12 Gy irradiations, whereas 18 Gy treatment resulted in prolonged responses, up to the tenth day after irradiation. DOS measurements further revealed a delayed increase of tumor oxygenation levels for 18 Gy irradiations, commencing on the sixth day post treatment. The ameliorated oxygenation is attributed to diminished oxygen consumption by inhibited tumor cells but not to the elevation of oxygen supply.

This work is the first to demonstrate the differential (size-dependent) nature of vascular responses to radiation treatments at varying doses in vivo. The OA approach thus facilitates the study of radiation-induced vascular changes in an unperturbed in vivo environment while enabling deep tissue high-resolution observations at the whole tumor scale.

Neoplasia Vol. 26, No. C, 2022 Noninvasive optoacoustic microangiography reveals dose and size dependency A. Orlova et al.

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