Longitudinal MRI was applied to monitor intracranial initiation and development of brain metastases and assess tumor vascular volume and permeability in a mouse model of breast cancer brain metastases. Using a 9.4T system, high resolution anatomic MRI and dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC) perfusion MRI were acquired at different time points after an intracardiac injection of brain-tropic breast cancer MDA-MB231BR-EGFP cells. Three weeks post injection, multifocal brain metastases were first observed with hyperintensity on T2-weighted images, but isointensity on T1-weighted post contrast images, indicating that blood-tumor-barrier (BTB) at early stage of brain metastases was impermeable. Follow-up MRI revealed intracranial tumor growth and increased number of metastases that distributed throughout the whole brain. At the last scan on week 5, T1-weighted post contrast images detected BTB disruption in 160 (34%) of a total of 464 brain metastases. Enhancement in some of the metastases was only seen in partial regions of the tumor, suggesting intratumoral heterogeneity of BTB disruption. DSC MRI measurements of relative cerebral blood volume (rCBV) showed that rCBV of brain metastases was significantly lower (mean = 0.89±0.03) than that of contralateral normal brain (mean = 1.00±0.03; p<0.005). Intriguingly, longitudinal measurements revealed that rCBV of individual metastases at early stage was similar to, but became significantly lower than that of contralateral normal brain with tumor growth (p<0.05). The rCBV data were concordant with histological analysis of microvascular density (MVD). Moreover, comprehensive analysis suggested no significant correlation among tumor size, rCBV and BTB permeability. In conclusion, longitudinal MRI provides non-invasive in vivo assessments of spatial and temporal development of brain metastases and their vascular volume and permeability. The characteristic rCBV of brain metastases may have a diagnostic value. © 2013 Zhou et al.
H., Z., M., C., & D., Z. (2013). Longitudinal MRI Evaluation of Intracranial Development and Vascular Characteristics of Breast Cancer Brain Metastases in a Mouse Model. PLoS ONE, 8(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0062238