Recently, a new type of cancer treatment has been introduced that combines pulsed electric fields (PEF) with anticancer drugs. The proposed mode of action is that PEF create transient pores in the membranes which allow entry of drugs into the cells. This method increases cytotoxicity of some anticancer drugs like bleomycin (BLM) by 2-3 orders of magnitude, which, in turn, reduces systemic drug dosage without decreasing efficacy. In the present study, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to determine changes in apparent water self-diffusion coefficients (ADC) and spin-lattice (T1) and spin-spin (T2) relaxation times that occur in an animal laryngeal tumor (HEp-2 cells) model with BLM delivered by PEF. A Bruker 14 Tesla (600 MHz) wide-bore spectrometer with micro-imaging capability was used to generate all the data. Mice carrying ∼8 mm tumors were treated with several combinations of drug and PEF. All measurements were made on tumor samples excised from mice 24 and 48 hours after treatment with (i) saline, intratumor injection (i.t.), (ii) BLM, i.t., (iii) saline with PEF, and (iv) BLM, i.t., followed by PEF. Although T1does not differ between the controls (i, ii, and iii) and full treatment (iv) 6.72 ± 0.20 s vs. 6.31 ± 1.7 s, T2for (iv) at 24 hours is significantly different from the controls 52.4 ± 0.91 ms vs. 46.5 ± 1.54 ms. T2differences between treatment and controls disappear at 48 hours. ADC increases significantly from 24 to 48 hours (7.31 ± 0.16 × 10-6to 8.28 ± 0.28 × 10-6cm2/sec, p = 0.05). Longer T2values may reflect early apoptosis and tumor death when the tumor is structurally less dense. Higher ADC's, associated with the periphery of the tumors and the central region, may indicate loose structural organization and necrosis resulting from the combination treatment. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
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