Ultrasound backscatter microscope analysis of mouse melanoma progression
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The incidence and mortality rate of cutaneous melanoma continue to increase throughout the world, making the study of melanoma biology an important area of current research. While recent breakthroughs in transgenic mouse technology have led to promising mouse skin models of melanoma, there is presently no technique available for quantitatively studying subsurface melanoma progression, in vivo. We demonstrate the first application of an imaging method called ultrasound backscatter microscopy (UBM) for imaging early murine melanomas with spatial resolution of 30 microns axial and 60 microns lateral. Murine B16 F10 melanomas have been imaged from their earliest detection, over several days, until they are 2 to 5 mm in diameter. Melanoma dimensions measured by UBM were found to be in excellent agreement with those determined histopathologically on the excised tumours. The relative rms errors in UBM-determined melanoma height and width were found to be 8.7% and 4.2%, respectively. The mean rate of increase in tumour height of early murine melanoma was found to be 0.37 +/- 0.06 mm/day. Computer-generated volumetric renderings of melanomas have been produced from three-dimensional image data, allowing quantitative comparisons of tumour volumes to be made. Using a priori assumptions of ellipsoid tumour shape, the relative error in UBM-determined volume was shown to be less than 17%. These results should be of considerable interest to investigators studying melanoma biology using mouse skin models, and have implications in the use of high frequency ultrasound imaging for the clinical assessment of cutaneous melanoma.
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