Advances in small animal imaging have improved the detection and monitoring of cancer in vivo; although with orthotopic models, precise localization of tumors remains a challenge. In this study, we evaluated multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) as an imaging modality to detect pancreatic adenocarcinoma in an orthotopic murine model.

In vitro binding of Syndecan-1 probe to the human pancreatic cancer cell line S2VP10 was evaluated on flow cytometry. For in vivo testing, S2VP10 cells were orthotopically implanted into the pancreas of severe combined immunodeficiency mice. At 7 d after implantation, the mice were intravenously injected with Syndecan-1 probe, and tumor uptake was evaluated with MSOT at multiple time points. Comparison was made with a free-dye control, indocyanine green (ICG). Probe uptake was verified ex vivo with fluorescent imaging.

Syndecan-1 probe demonstrated partial binding to S2VP10 cells in vitro. In vivo, Syndecan-1 probe preferentially accumulated in the pancreas tumor (480 MSOT a.u.) compared with off-target organs, including the liver (67 MSOT a.u.) and kidney (96 MSOT a.u.). Syndecan-1 probe accumulation peaked at 6 h (480 MSOT a.u.), whereas the ICG control dye failed to demonstrate similar retention within the tumor bed (0.0003 MSOT a.u.). At peak accumulation, signal intensity was 480 MSOT a.u., resulting in several times greater signal in the tumor bed than in the kidney or liver. Ex vivo fluorescent imaging comparing tumor signal with that within off-target organs confirmed the in vivo results.

MSOT demonstrates successful accumulation of Syndecan-1 probe within pancreatic tumors, and provides high-resolution images, which allow noninvasive, real-time comparison of signal within individual organs. Syndecan-1 probe preferentially accumulates within a pancreatic adenocarcinoma model, with minimal off-target effects.