Angiogenesis is an established prognostic factor in advanced breast cancer, yet response to antiangiogenic therapies in this disease remains highly variable. Noninvasive imaging biomarkers could help identify patients that will benefit from antiangiogenic therapy and provide an ideal tool for longitudinal monitoring, enabling dosing regimens to be altered with real-time feedback. Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) is an emerging imaging modality that provides a direct readout of tumor hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation. We hypothesized that PAT could be used in the longitudinal setting to provide an early indication of response or resistance to antiangiogenic therapy. To test this hypothesis, PAT was performed over time in estrogen receptor-positive and estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer xenograft mouse models undergoing treatment with the antiangiogenic bevacizumab as a single agent. The cohort of treated tumors, which were mostly resistant to the treatment, contained a subset that demonstrated a clear survival benefit. At endpoint, the PAT data from the responding subset showed significantly lower oxygenation and higher hemoglobin content compared with both resistant and control tumors. Longitudinal analysis revealed that tumor oxygenation diverged significantly in the responding subset, identifying early treatment response and the evolution of different vascular phenotypes between the subsets. Responding tumors were characterized by a more angiogenic phenotype when analyzed with IHC, displaying higher vessel density, yet poorer vascular maturity and elevated hypoxia. Taken together, our findings indicate that PAT shows promise in providing an early indication of response or resistance to antiangiogenic therapy.

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