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J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Dec;117(6):1442-8.

In vivo detection of small subsurface melanomas in athymic mice using noninvasive fiber optic confocal imaging.

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Department of Pharmacology, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


Fiber optic confocal imaging, following intravenous administration of fluorescently labeled antibodies and Texas Red-dextran, enabled in vivo detection of melanoma and surrounding blood vessels in athymic mice. Human melanoma cells (three cell lines) and cultured normal human skin cells were implanted intradermally into the haunch skin of anesthetized athymic BALB/C mice and allowed to grow to a maximum size of 2 mm diameter. Using three different fluorescein-isothiocyanate-labeled antimelanoma antibodies, single channel confocal images of melanoma cells were obtained in vivo. Using noninvasive techniques, the overall in vivo melanoma detection rate for tumors within 0.2 mm of the skin surface was 84% (27 of 32 tumors). Normal cultured human skin cells were found to have little or no fluorescence after administration of the fluorescein-isothiocyanate-labeled antibodies and tumors were not labeled by an isotype control antibody. Dual channel imaging of the implanted melanoma tumor and surrounding dermal vasculature in vivo showed increased blood vessel density at the melanoma site. Conventional immunoperoxidase histology confirmed that fiber optic confocal imaging was able to detect melanoma tumors up to 0.2 mm below the skin surface, in vivo.

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