Quantitative ex-vivo micro-computed tomographic imaging of blood vessels and necrotic regions within tumors

PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e41685. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0041685. Epub 2012 Jul 25.


Techniques for visualizing and quantifying the microvasculature of tumors are essential not only for studying angiogenic processes but also for monitoring the effects of anti-angiogenic treatments. Given the relatively limited information that can be gleaned from conventional 2-D histological analyses, there has been considerable interest in methods that enable the 3-D assessment of the vasculature. To this end, we employed a polymerizing intravascular contrast medium (Microfil) and micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) in combination with a maximal spheres direct 3-D analysis method to visualize and quantify ex-vivo vessel structural features, and to define regions of hypoperfusion within tumors that would be indicative of necrosis. Employing these techniques we quantified the effects of a vascular disrupting agent on the tumor vasculature. The methods described herein for quantifying whole tumor vascularity represent a significant advance in the 3-D study of tumor angiogenesis and evaluation of novel therapeutics, and will also find potential application in other fields where quantification of blood vessel structure and necrosis are important outcome parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Angiography*
  • Animals
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Mice
  • Necrosis
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • X-Ray Microtomography*