Rapid and quantitative assessment of cancer treatment response using in vivo bioluminescence imaging

Neoplasia. Nov-Dec 2000;2(6):491-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.neo.7900121.


Current assessment of orthotopic tumor models in animals utilizes survival as the primary therapeutic end point. In vivo bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is a sensitive imaging modality that is rapid and accessible, and may comprise an ideal tool for evaluating antineoplastic therapies. Using human tumor cell lines constitutively expressing luciferase, the kinetics of tumor growth and response to therapy have been assessed in intraperitoneal, and subcutaneous, and intravascular cancer models. However, use of this approach for evaluating orthotopic tumor models has not been demonstrated. In this report, the ability of BLI to noninvasively quantitate the growth and therapeutic-induced cell kill of orthotopic rat brain tumors derived from 9L gliosarcoma cells genetically engineered to stably express firefly luciferase (9LLuc) was investigated. Intracerebral tumor burden was monitored over time by quantitation of photon emission and tumor volume using a cryogenically cooled CCD camera and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), respectively. There was excellent correlation (r=0.91) between detected photons and tumor volume. A quantitative comparison of tumor cell kill determined from serial MRI volume measurements and BLI photon counts following 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea (BCNU) treatment revealed that both imaging modalities yielded statistically similar cell kill values (P=.951). These results provide direct validation of BLI imaging as a powerful and quantitative tool for the assessment of antineoplastic therapies in living animals.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / therapeutic use*
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Carmustine / therapeutic use*
  • Firefly Luciferin*
  • Gene Expression
  • Gliosarcoma / diagnosis
  • Gliosarcoma / drug therapy*
  • Gliosarcoma / genetics
  • Luciferases / genetics
  • Luminescent Measurements*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Firefly Luciferin
  • Luciferases
  • Carmustine