Confocal Fluorescence Imaging Enables Noninvasive Quantitative Assessment of Host Cell Populations In Vivo Following Photodynamic Therapy
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We report the use of optical imaging strategies to noninvasively examine photosensitizer distribution and physiological and host responses to 2-[1-hexyloxyethyl]-2 devinyl pyropheophorbide-a (HPPH)-mediated photodynamic therapy (PDT) of EMT6 tumors established in the ears of BALB/c mice. 24 h following intravenous (IV) administration of 1 μmol kg(-1) HPPH, wide-field fluorescence imaging reveals tumor selectivity with an approximately 2-3-fold differential between tumor and adjacent normal tissue. Confocal microscopy demonstrates a relatively homogeneous intratumor HPPH distribution. Labeling of host cells using fluorophore-conjugated antibodies allowed the visualization of Gr1(+)/CD11b(+) leukocytes and major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II)(+) cells in vivo. Imaging of the treated site at different time-points following irradiation shows significant and rapid increases in Gr1(+) cells in response to therapy. The maximum accumulation of Gr1(+) cells is found at 24 h post-irradiation, followed by a decrease at the 48 h time-point. Using IV-injected FITC-conjugated dextran as a fluorescent perfusion marker, we imaged tissue perfusion at different times post-irradiation and found that the reduced Gr1(+ )cell density at 48 h correlated strongly with functional damage to the vasculature as reported via decreased perfusion status. Dual color confocal imaging experiments demonstrates that about 90% of the anti-Gr1 cell population co-localized with anti-CD11b labeling, thus indicating that majority of the Gr1-labeled cells were neutrophils. At 24 h post-PDT, an approximately 2-fold increase in MHC-II+ cells relative to untreated control is also observed. Co-localization analysis reveals an increase in the fraction of Gr1(+) cells expressing MHC-II, suggesting that HPPH-PDT is stimulating neutrophils to express an antigen-presenting phenotype.
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