Noninvasive imaging of tumor burden and molecular pathways in mouse models of cancer.


Wang Y, Tseng J-C, Sun Y, Beck AH, Kung AL. Noninvasive imaging of tumor burden and molecular pathways in mouse models of cancer. Cold Spring Harb Protoc 2015;2015(2):pdb.top069930.

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Imaging plays a central role in the diagnosis of cancer and the evaluation of therapeutic efficacy in patients with cancer. Because macroscopic imaging is noninvasive and quantitative, the development of specialized instruments for small animals has spurred increasing utilization in preclinical cancer studies. Some small-animal imaging devices are miniaturized derivatives of clinical imaging modalities, including computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, positron-emission tomography, single-photon emission computed tomography, and ultrasonography. Optical imaging, including bioluminescence imaging and fluorescence imaging, has evolved from microscopic cellular imaging technologies. Here, we review how current imaging modalities are enabling high-resolution structural imaging with micrometer-scale spatial resolution, thus allowing for the quantification of tumor burden in genetically engineered and orthotopic models of cancer, where tumors develop within organs not typically accessible to measurements with calipers. Beyond measuring tumor size, imaging is increasingly being used to assess the activity of molecular pathways within tumors and to reveal the pharmacodynamic efficacy of targeted therapies. Each imaging technology has particular strengths and limitations, and we discuss how studies should be carefully designed to match the imaging approach to the primary experimental question.