Quantitative monitoring of mouse lung tumors by magnetic resonance imaging

Nat Protoc. 2012 Jan 5;7(1):128-42. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2011.424.


Primary lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world, and the lung is a common site for recurrence of extrathoracic malignancies. Small-animal (rodent) models of cancer can have a very valuable role in the development of improved therapeutic strategies. However, detection of mouse pulmonary tumors and their subsequent response to therapy in situ is challenging. We have recently described MRI as a reliable, reproducible and nondestructive modality for the detection and serial monitoring of pulmonary tumors. By combining respiratory-gated data acquisition methods with manual and automated segmentation algorithms described by our laboratory, pulmonary tumor burden can be quantitatively measured in approximately 1 h (data acquisition plus analysis) per mouse. Quantitative, analytical methods are described for measuring tumor burden in both primary (discrete tumors) and metastatic (diffuse tumors) disease. Thus, small-animal MRI represents a novel and unique research tool for preclinical investigation of therapeutic strategies for treatment of pulmonary malignancies, and it may be valuable in evaluating new compounds targeting lung cancer in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL