Histotripsy for Non-Invasive Ablation of Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) Tumor in a Subcutaneous Xenograft Murine Model

Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2018 Jul;2018:6064-6067. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2018.8513650.


Histotripsy fractionates tissue through a mechanical, non-invasive ultrasonic ablation process that precisely controls acoustic cavitation while utilizing real-time ultrasound (US) imaging guidance. This study investigates the potential, feasibility and tumor volume reduction effects of histotripsy for liver cancer ablation in a subcutaneous in vivo murine Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) model. Hep3B tumors were generated in the right flanks of 14 NSG and 7 NOD-SCID mice. The mice were grouped as follows: A (acute, NSG with n=9 treatment and n=1 control), B (chronic, NSG with n=2 treatment and n=2 control) and C (chronic NODSCID, with n=6 treatment and n=1 control). Treatment was performed when the tumor diameters reached >5 mm. 1-2 cycle histotripsy pulses at 100 Hz PRF (p- >30 MPa) were delivered using a custom built 1 MHz therapy transducer attached to a motorized positioner, which scanned the transducer focus to traverse the targeted tumor volume, guided by real-time US imaging. Tumor ablation effectiveness was assessed by obtaining T1, T2 and T2* weighted MR images. Post euthanasia, treated tumor, brain, and lung tissue samples were harvested for histology. Histology of acute group A showed fractionation of targeted region with a sharp boundary separating it from untreated tissue. Groups B and C demonstrated effective tumor volume reduction post treatment on MRI as the homogenate and edema were resorbed within 23 weeks. However, as the tumor was subcutaneous, it was not possible to set adequate treatment margin and since the mice were immune-compromised, residual viable tumor cells eventually developed into tumor regrowth at 3-9 weeks after histotripsy. Groups B and C showed no signs of metastasis in the lung and brain. Our study successfully demonstrated the potential of histotripsy for non-invasive HCC ablation in a subcutaneous murine model. Additional work is ongoing to study the response of histotripsy in immune-competent orthotopic liver tumor models.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Heterografts
  • High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Ablation
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID