Real-time monitoring of circulating tumor cell (CTC) release after nanodrug or tumor radiotherapy using in vivo flow cytometry

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017 Oct 21;492(3):507-512. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.08.053. Epub 2017 Aug 16.


Noninvasive biological readouts of tumor metastatic risk and therapeutic efficacy are needed as healthcare costs rise. CTCs are the source of metastasis in distant organs that are responsible for the majority of cancer-related deaths. Here we demonstrate the acute and long-term effect of vascular disrupting therapies (high-dose radiotherapy and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF)) on CTCs released from the primary tumor with a non-invasive real-time in vivo flow cytometry system. Using our innovative flow cytometry platform, we show here that radiation and nanodrug treatment can lead to short term release of CTC from the primary tumor. There was no increase in metastasis frequency or extent between control and TNF-treated mice; however, a significant reduction in lung metastasis was noted in the radiotherapy alone group. Mice treated with both TNF and radiotherapy had a slightly elevated metastatic profile between that of radiation alone and control (untreated) tumors. Possible mechanisms based on therapy specific vessel disruption and cell death are discussed. Overall, CTCs correlated with tumor progression and suggest CTC enumeration described herein may be useful in clinical management of solid tumor malignancies.

Keywords: Circulating tumor cells; In vivo fluorescent flow cytometry; Metastasis; Radiation; TNF-α; Vascular disrupting agents.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Flow Cytometry*
  • Gold / pharmacology*
  • Mice
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / drug effects*
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / pathology
  • Neoplastic Cells, Circulating / radiation effects*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors


  • CYT-6091
  • Polyethylene Glycols
  • Gold