Tumor vascular permeability to a nanoprobe correlates to tumor-specific expression levels of angiogenic markers

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Karathanasis, Efstathios
Chan, Leslie
Karumbaiah, Lohitash
McNeeley, Kathleen
D’Orsi, Carl J.
Annapragada, Ananth V.
Sechopoulos, Ioannis S.
Bellamkonda, Ravi V.
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Background. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor-2 is the major mediator of the mitogenic, angiogenic, and vascular hyperpermeability effects of VEGF on breast tumors. Overexpression of VEGF and VEGF receptor-2 is associated with the degree of pathomorphosis of the tumor tissue and unfavorable prognosis. In this study, we demonstrate that non-invasive quantification of the degree of tumor vascular permeability to a nanoprobe correlates with the VEGF and its receptor levels and tumor growth. Methodology/Principal Findings. We designed an imaging nanoprobe and a methodology to detect the intratumoral deposition of a 100 nm-scale nanoprobe using mammography allowing measurement of the tumor vascular permeability in a rat MAT B III breast tumor model. The tumor vascular permeability varied widely among the animals. Notably, the VEGF and VEGF receptor-2 gene expression of the tumors as measured by qRT-PCR displayed a strong correlation to the imaging-based measurements of vascular permeability to the 100 nm-scale nanoprobe. This is in good agreement with the fact that tumors with high angiogenic activity are expected to have more permeable blood vessels resulting in high intratumoral deposition of a nanoscale agent. In addition, we show that higher intratumoral deposition of the nanoprobe as imaged with mammography correlated to a faster tumor growth rate. This data suggest that vascular permeability scales to the tumor growth and that tumor vascular permeability can be a measure of underlying VEGF and VEGF receptor-2 expression in individual tumors. Conclusions/Significance. This is the first demonstration, to our knowledge, that quantitative imaging of tumor vascular permeability to a nanoprobe represents a form of a surrogate, functional biomarker of underlying molecular markers of angiogenesis
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