If you don't look, you won't see: intravital multiphoton imaging of primary and metastatic breast cancer

J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia. 2012 Jun;17(2):125-9. doi: 10.1007/s10911-012-9250-8. Epub 2012 May 12.


A fundamental hallmark of cancer is progression to metastasis and the growth of breast cancer metastases in lung, bone, liver and/or brain causes fatal complications. Unfortunately, the cellular and biochemical mechanisms of the metastatic process remain ill-defined. Recent application of intravital multiphoton microscopy (MP-IVM) to image fluorescently labeled cells in mouse models of cancer has allowed dynamic observation of this multi-step process at the cellular and subcellular levels. In this article, we discuss the use of MP-IVM in studies of breast cancer metastasis, as well as surgical techniques for exposing tumors prior to imaging. We also describe a versatile multiphoton microscope for imaging tumor-stroma interactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Neoplasms / pathology
  • Bone Marrow Neoplasms / secondary
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism*
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence, Multiphoton / instrumentation
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation / pathology
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / pathology


  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • enhanced green fluorescent protein
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins