Agents targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) have been validated as cancer therapeutics, yet efficacy can differ widely between tumor types and individual patients. In addition, such agents are costly and can have significant toxicities. Rapid noninvasive determination of response could provide significant benefits. We tested if response to the anti-VEGF antibody bevacizumab (BV) could be detected using contrast-enhanced ultrasound imaging (CEUS). We used two xenograft model systems with previously well-characterized responses to VEGF inhibition, a responder (SK-NEP-1) and a non-responder (NGP), and examined perfusion-related parameters. CEUS demonstrated that BV treatment arrested the increase in blood volume in the SK-NEP-1 tumor group only. Molecular imaging of α(V)β(3) with targeted microbubbles was a more sensitive prognostic indicator of BV efficacy. CEUS using RGD-labeled microbubbles showed a robust decrease in α(V)β(3) vasculature following BV treatment in SK-NEP-1 tumors. Paralleling these findings, lectin perfusion assays detected a disproportionate pruning of smaller, branch vessels. Therefore, we conclude that the response to BV can be identified soon after initiation of treatment, often within 3 days, by use of CEUS molecular imaging techniques. The use of a noninvasive ultrasound approach may allow for earlier and more effective determination of efficacy of antiangiogenic therapy.
Copyright © 2012 World Federation for Ultrasound in Medicine & Biology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.