Breast cancer is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in Western women. Tumor neoangiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones, may be used as a prognostic marker for cancer progression. Clinical practice uses dynamic contrast enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) to detect cancers based on increased blood flow and capillary permeability. However, DCE-MRI requires repeated injections of contrast media. Therefore we explored the use of noninvasive time-of-flight (TOF) MR angiography for serial studies of mouse mammary glands to measure the number and size of arteries feeding mammary glands with and without cancer. Virgin female C3(1) SV40 TAg mice (n=9), aged 18-20 weeks, were imaged on a 9.4 Tesla small animal scanner. Multislice T 2 -weighted (T2W) images and TOF-MRI angiograms were acquired over inguinal mouse mammary glands. The data were analyzed to determine tumor burden in each mammary gland and the volume of arteries feeding each mammary gland. After in vivo MRI, inguinal mammary glands were excised and fixed in formalin for histology. TOF angiography detected arteries with a diameter as small as 0.1 mm feeding the mammary glands. A significant correlation (r=0.79; p< 0.0001) was found between tumor volume and the arterial blood volume measured in mammary glands. Mammary arterial blood volumes ranging from 0.08 mm 3 to 3.81 mm 3 were measured. Tumors and blood vessels found on in vivo T2W and TOF images, respectively, were confirmed with ex vivo histological images. These results demonstrate increased recruitment of arteries to mammary glands with cancer, likely associated with neoangiogenesis. Neoangiogenesis may be detected by TOF angiography without injection of contrast agents. This would be very useful in mouse models where repeat placement of I.V. lines is challenging. In addition, analogous methods could be tested in humans to evaluate the vasculature of suspicious lesions without using contrast agents.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging