Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) is an established method for evaluating metastatic load in preclinical cancer models; however, BLI can produce observational error due to differences in substrate concentration and signal depth. In our syngeneic murine model of metastasis (VM-M3), we used a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) method of DNA quantification to bypass these limitations. Liver, spleen, and brain from VM/Dk (VM) mice bearing VM-M3 tumor cells were first imaged ex vivo with BLI. qPCR quantification of tumor cell DNA was then performed on DNA extracted from these organs. Linear regression indicated that qPCR data predicted BLI data in solid tissue. Furthermore, the tumor cell detection limit was lower for qPCR analysis than for BLI analysis. In order to validate qPCR for use in detecting blood metastases, qPCR quantification was performed on whole blood collected from mice whose global organ metastatic load (summation of liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and brain) was quantified through BLI. Linear regression indicated that qPCR data in blood predicted BLI data in solid tissue. The results demonstrate that qPCR is an accurate and sensitive method of metastatic quantification in syngeneic murine models.
Keywords: Bioluminescence imaging; Circulating tumor cells; Linear regression analysis; Quantitative polymerase chain reaction; VM-M3.
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