Imaging tumor variation in response to photodynamic therapy in pancreatic cancer xenograft models.
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) that uses the second generation photosensitizer, verteporfin (VP), is a developing therapy for pancreatic cancer. The optimal timing of light delivery related to VP uptake and distribution in pancreatic tumors will be important information to obtain to improve treatment for this intractable disease. In this work we examined uptake and distribution of VP in two orthotopic pancreatic tumors with different histological structure. ASPC-1 (fast-growing) and Panc-1 (slower growing) tumors were implanted in SCID mice and studied when tumors were approximately 100mm. In a pilot study, these tumors had been shown to differ in uptake of VP using lightinduced fluorescence spectroscopy (LIFS) in vivo and fluorescence imaging ex vivo and that work is extended here. In vivo fluorescence mean readings of tumor and liver increased rapidly up to 15 minutes after photosensitizer injection for both tumor types, and then continued to increase up to 60 minutes post injection to a higher level in ASPC-1 than in Panc-1. There was variability among animals with the same tumor type, in both liver and tumor uptake and no selectivity of tumor over liver. In this work we further examined VP uptake at multiple time points in relation to microvascular density and perfusion, using DiOC7 (to mark blood vessels) and VP fluorescence in the same tissue slices. Analysis of DiOC7 fluorescence indicates that AsPC-1 and Panc-1 have different vascular densities but AsPC-1 vasculature is more perfusive. Analysis of colocalized DiOC7 and VP fluorescence showed ASPC-1 with higher accumulation of VP 3 hrs after injection and more VP at a distance from blood vessels compared to Panc-1. This work shows the need for techniques to analyze photosensitizer distribution in order to optimize photodynamic therapy as an effective treatment for pancreatic tumors.