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Invest Radiol. 2013 Jun;48(6):413-21. doi: 10.1097/RLI.0b013e31827a4a3f.

Molecular bioluminescence imaging as a noninvasive tool for monitoring tumor growth and therapeutic response to MRI-guided laser ablation in a rat model of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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  • 1Medical Scientist Training Program, College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. Thompson.scott@mayo.edu



The objective of this study was to quantitatively compare tumor imaging by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and molecular bioluminescence imaging (BLI) and test the feasibility of monitoring the effect of MRI-guided laser ablation on tumor viability by 2-dimensional BLI and 3-dimensional diffuse luminescence tomography (3D DLIT) in an orthotopic rat model of hepatocellular carcinoma.


This study was approved by the animal care committee. Rats underwent injection of N1S1 cells stably transfected with an empty vector (n = 3) or a heat shock element luciferase reporter (HSE-luc; n = 4) into the liver. All rats underwent MRI to assess tumor establishment and volume and 2-dimensional BLI to assess tumor luminescence at day 7 with subsequent MRI and 2D BLI and 3D DLIT in select animals at days 14 and 21. Magnetic resonance imaging-guided laser ablation of the tumor was performed with preablation and postablation 2D BLI and/or 3D DLIT (n = 2). The tumors underwent histopathologic analysis to assess tumor viability.


The MRI scans demonstrated hyperintense T2-weighted lesions at 3 of 3 and 4 of 4 sites in the empty vector and HSE-luc rats, respectively. Two-dimensional BLI quantitation demonstrated 23.0-fold higher radiance in the HSE-luc group compared with the empty vector group at day 7 (P < 0.01) and a significant correlation with tumor volume by MRI (r = 0.86; P < 0.03). Tumor dimensions by 3D DLIT and MRI demonstrated good agreement. Three-dimensional DLIT quantitation demonstrated better agreement with the percentage of nonviable tumor by histopathology than did 2D BLI quantitation after the MRI-guided laser ablation.


Bioluminescence imaging is feasible as a noninvasive, quantitative tool for monitoring tumor growth and therapeutic response to thermal ablation in a rat model of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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