In vivo intracellular oxygen dynamics in murine brain glioma and immunotherapeutic response of cytotoxic T cells observed by fluorine-19 magnetic resonance imaging

PLoS One. 2013 May 8;8(5):e59479. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059479. Print 2013.


Noninvasive biomarkers of anti-tumoral efficacy are of great importance to the development of therapeutic agents. Tumor oxygenation has been shown to be an important indicator of therapeutic response. We report the use of intracellular labeling of tumor cells with perfluorocarbon (PFC) molecules, combined with quantitative ¹⁹F spin-lattice relaxation rate (R₁) measurements, to assay tumor cell oxygen dynamics in situ. In a murine central nervous system (CNS) GL261 glioma model, we visualized the impact of Pmel-1 cytotoxic T cell immunotherapy, delivered intravenously, on intracellular tumor oxygen levels. GL261 glioma cells were labeled ex vivo with PFC and inoculated into the mouse striatum. The R₁ of ¹⁹F labeled cells was measured using localized single-voxel magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and the absolute intracellular partial pressure of oxygen (pO₂) was ascertained. Three days after tumor implantation, mice were treated with 2×10⁷ cytotoxic T cells intravenously. At day five, a transient spike in pO₂ was observed indicating an influx of T cells into the CNS and putative tumor cell apoptosis. Immunohistochemistry and quantitative flow cytometry analysis confirmed that the pO₂ was causally related to the T cells infiltration. Surprisingly, the pO₂ spike was detected even though few (∼4×10⁴) T cells actually ingress into the CNS and with minimal tumor shrinkage. These results indicate the high sensitivity of this approach and its utility as a non-invasive surrogate biomarker of anti-cancer immunotherapeutic response in preclinical models.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / immunology
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / therapy
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Fluorine
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Glioma / immunology
  • Glioma / metabolism*
  • Glioma / therapy
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Mice
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Fluorocarbons
  • Fluorine
  • Oxygen

Grant support

This work is supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Dana Foundation. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.