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Temporally and Spatially Heterogeneous Distribution of mTHPC in a Murine Tumor Observed by Two-color Confocal Fluorescence Imaging and Spectroscopy in a Whole-mount Model



Efficient intratumor delivery of anticancer drugs and photo-sensitizers is an important factor in the success of chemotherapy and photodynamic therapy, respectively. Unfortunately, their adequate and uniform intratumor distribution is impeded by several physiological barriers and by binding to tissue components. Measurement of gross tumor drug accumulation is a routine method of investigating the uptake and clearance of chemotherapy agents and photosensitizers but tells little about their extravascular spatial distribution. We use whole-mount two-color confocal fluorescence imaging and imaging spectroscopy of unprocessed excised murine tumor fragments to investigate the intratumor distribution of the photosensitizer meso-tetrahydroxyphenyl chlorin (mTHPC) as a function of distance from blood vessels perfused with 0.2 μm diameter fluorescent microspheres. Significant mismatches between drug and perfused vasculature are caused by heterogeneities in tumor blood supply. We describe complex microscopic mTHPC gradients that reverse dramatically relative to the perfused vasculature with time after injection. This imaging technique can be applied to screen the dynamic intratumor distribution of other fluorescent photosensitizers and anticancer drugs.