Difficulty in visualizing glioma margins intraoperatively remains a major issue in the achievement of gross total tumor resection and, thus, better clinical outcome of glioblastoma (GBM) patients. Here, the potential of a new combined optical + optoacoustic imaging method for intraoperative brain tumor delineation is investigated. A strategy using a newly developed gold nanostar synthesis method, Raman reporter chemistry, and silication method to produce dual-modality contrast agents for combined surface-enhanced resonance Raman scattering (SERRS) and multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) imaging is devised. Following intravenous injection of the SERRS-MSOT-nanostars in brain tumor bearing mice, sequential MSOT imaging is performed in vivo and followed by Raman imaging. MSOT is able to accurately depict GBMs three-dimensionally with high specificity. The MSOT signal is found to correlate well with the SERRS images. Because SERRS enables uniquely sensitive high-resolution surface detection, it could represent an ideal complementary imaging modality to MSOT, which enables real-time, deep tissue imaging in 3D. This dual-modality SERRS-MSOT-nanostar contrast agent reported here is shown to enable high precision depiction of the extent of infiltrating GBMs by Raman- and MSOT imaging in a clinically relevant murine GBM model and could pave new ways for improved image-guided resection of brain tumors.

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