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Int J Cancer. 2003 Sep 20;106(5):806-11.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the pancreas and pancreatic tumors in a mouse orthotopic model of human cancer.

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Center for Molecular Imaging Research, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Pancreatic adenocarcinoma has a rising incidence and a very poor survival rate. To develop new treatment strategies, extensive research is performed on animal models of pancreatic cancer. Orthotopic pancreatic tumors models, where the tumor is implanted into the pancreas, resemble the human disease more closely than subcutaneous tumor models, yet are difficult to monitor. In our study we report a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) approach to visualize the pancreas in mice and to monitor orthotopically implanted pancreatic tumors. An MRI scanner was used to image normal murine pancreas and the pancreas of mice implanted with a human pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell line. Gadolinium (Gd)-DTPA-enhanced T1- and T2-weighted standard sequences were used with the objective to identify the pancreas and to monitor the growth of orthotopic tumors during 30 days. The pancreas as well as the implanted tumors could be easily identified using MRI. On T2-weighted images, the implanted tumors were easily visualized at the implantation side with high signal intensity. After application of a contrast agent, the tumors showed an enhancement. Heterogeneities within the tumor could be delineated, corresponding to histology, and the size of the tumor could be measured precisely. MR serves as a noninvasive high-resolution image modality to monitor murine pancreas as well as size, growth and even areas of heterogeneity in orthotopic pancreatic tumors.

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