Background: In patients with advanced ovarian cancer (OvCa), microscopic residual tumour nodules that remain after surgical debulking frequently escape detection by current treatment assessment methods and lead to disease recurrence. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of high-resolution fibre-optic fluorescence imaging of the clinically approved photodynamic therapy (PDT) agent benzoporphyin-derivative monoacid ring A (BPD-MA) for detection of microscopic OvCa and for monitoring treatment response.
Methods: Our fluorescence microendoscope consists of a flexible imaging fibre coupled to a custom epi-fluorescence system optimised for imaging BPD-MA, which, after a single administration, serves as both an imaging agent and a light-activated therapeutic agent. After characterisation in an in vitro OvCa 3D model, we used the flexible imaging fibre to minimally invasively image the peritoneal cavity of a disseminated OvCa murine model using BPD-MA administered intraperitoneally (i.p.). To evaluate longitudinal changes in response to treatment, we compared sets of images obtained before and after PDT with those from untreated mice imaged at the same time points.
Results: By comparison with histopathology, we report an 86% sensitivity for tumour detection in vivo using the microendoscope. Using a custom routine to batch process-image data in the monitoring study, treated mice exhibited an average decrease of 58.8% in tumour volumes compared with an increase of 59.3% in untreated controls (P<0.05).
Conclusions: Our findings indicate the potential of this approach as a reporter of treatment outcome that could aid in the rational design of strategies to mitigate recurrent OvCa.