Most imaging studies of immunotherapy have focused on tracking labeled T cell biodistribution in vivo for understanding trafficking and homing parameters and predicting therapeutic efficacy by the presence of transferred T cells at or in the tumour mass. Conversely, we investigate here a novel concept for longitudinally elucidating anatomical and pathophysiological changes of solid tumours after adoptive T cell transfer in a preclinical set up, using previously unexplored in-tandem macroscopic and mesoscopic optoacoustic (photoacoustic) imaging. We show non-invasive in vivo observations of vessel collapse during tumour rejection across entire tumours and observe for the first time longitudinal tumour rejection in a label-free manner based on optical absorption changes in the tumour mass due to cellular decline. We complement these observations with high resolution episcopic fluorescence imaging of T cell biodistribution using optimized T cell labeling based on two near-infrared dyes targeting the cell membrane and the cytoplasm. We discuss how optoacoustic macroscopy and mesoscopy offer unique contrast and immunotherapy insights, allowing label-free and longitudinal observations of tumour therapy. The results demonstrate optoacoustic imaging as an invaluable tool in understanding and optimizing T cell therapy.

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