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Widefield Optical Imaging of Changes in Uptake of Glucose and Tissue Extracellular pH in Head and Neck Cancer


The overall objective of this study was to develop an optical imaging approach to simultaneously measure altered cell metabolism and changes in tissue extracellular pH with the progression of cancer using clinically isolated biopsies. In this study, 19 pairs of clinically normal and abnormal biopsies were obtained from consenting patients with head and neck cancer at University of California, Davis Medical Center. Fluorescence intensity of tissue biopsies before and after topical delivery of 2-NBDG (2-[N-(7-nitrobenz-2-oxa-1,3-diazol-4-yl)amino]-2-deoxy-D-glucose) and Alexa 647-pHLIP [pH (low) insertion peptide] was measured noninvasively by widefield imaging, and correlated with pathologic diagnosis. The results of widefield imaging of clinical biopsies demonstrated that 2-NBDG and pHLIP peptide can accurately distinguish the pathologically normal and abnormal biopsies. The results also demonstrated the potential of this approach to detect subepithelial lesions. Topical application of the contrast agents generated a significant increase in fluorescence contrast (3- to 4-fold) in the cancer biopsies as compared with the normal biopsies, irrespective of the patient and location of the biopsy within a head and neck cavity. This unpaired comparison across all the patients with cancer in this study highlights the specificity of the imaging approach. Furthermore, the results of this study indicated that changes in intracellular glucose metabolism and cancer acidosis are initiated in the early stages of cancer, and these changes are correlated with the progression of the disease. In conclusion, this novel optical molecular imaging approach to measure multiple biomarkers in cancer has a significant potential to be a useful tool for improving early detection and prognostic evaluation of oral neoplasia.

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