Contrast-enhanced ultrasound with VEGFR2-Targeted microbubbles for monitoring regorafenib therapy effects in experimental colorectal adenocarcinomas in rats with DCE-MRI and immunohistochemical validation

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Abstract

Objectives To investigate contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) with VEGFR2-targeted microbubbles for monitoring therapy effects of regorafenib on experimental colon carcinomas in rats with correlation to dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) and immunohistochemistry. Materials and Methods Human colorectal adenocarcinoma xenografts (HT-29) were implanted subcutaneously in n = 21 (n = 11 therapy group; n = 10 control group) female athymic nude rats (Hsd: RH-Foxn1rnu ). Animals were imaged at baseline and after a one-week daily treatment with regorafenib or a placebo (10 mg/kg bodyweight), using CEUS with VEGFR2-targeted microbubbles and DCE-MRI. In CEUS tumor perfusion was assessed during an early vascular phase (wash-in area under the curve = WiAUC) and VEGFR2-specific binding during a late molecular phase (signal intensity after 8 (SI8min ) and 10 minutes (SI10min )), using a conventional 15L8 linear transducer (transmit frequency 7 MHz, dynamic range 80 dB, depth 25 mm). In DCE-MRI functional parameters plasma flow (PF) and plasma volume (PV) were quantified. For validation purposes, CEUS parameters were correlated with DCE-MRI parameters and immunohistochemical VEGFR2, CD31, Ki-67 and TUNEL stainings. Results CEUS perfusion parameter WiAUC decreased significantly (116,989 ± 77,048 a.u. to 30,076 ± 27,095a.u.; p = 0.005) under therapy with no significant changes (133,932 ± 65,960 a.u. to 84,316 ± 74,144 a.u.; p = 0.093) in the control group. In the therapy group, the amount of bound microbubbles in the late phase was significantly lower in the therapy than n the control group on day 7 (SI8min : 283 ± 191 vs. 802 ± 460 a.u.; p = 0.006); SI10min : 226 ± 149 vs. 645 ± 461 a.u.; p = 0.009). PF and PV decreased significantly (PF: 147 ± 58 mL/100 mL/min to 71 ± 15 mL/100 mL/min; p = 0.003; PV: 13 ± 3% to 9 ± 4%; p = 0.040) in the therapy group. Immunohistochemistry revealed significantly fewer VEGFR2 (7.2 ± 1.8 vs. 17.8 ± 4.6; p < 0.001), CD31 (8.1 ± 3.0 vs. 20.8 ± 5.7; p < 0.001) and Ki-67 (318.7 ± 94.0 vs. 468.0 ± 133.8; p = 0.004) and significantly more TUNEL (672.7 ± 194.0 vs. 357.6 ± 192.0; p = 0.003) positive cells in the therapy group. CEUS parameters showed significant (p < 0.05) correlations to DCE-MRI parameters and immunohistochemistry.

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Eschbach, R. S., Clevert, D. A., Hirner-Eppeneder, H., Ingrisch, M., Moser, M., Schuster, J., … Cyran, C. C. (2017). Contrast-enhanced ultrasound with VEGFR2-Targeted microbubbles for monitoring regorafenib therapy effects in experimental colorectal adenocarcinomas in rats with DCE-MRI and immunohistochemical validation. PLoS ONE, 12(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169323

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