Monitoring the development of xenograft triple-negative breast cancer models using diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging

Renu M. Stephen, Mark D. Pagel, Kathy Brown, Amanda F. Baker, Emmanuelle J. Meuillet, Robert J. Gillies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Evaluations of tumor growth rates and molecular biomarkers are traditionally used to assess new mouse models of human breast cancers. This study investigated the utility of diffusion weighted (DW)-magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for evaluating cellular proliferation of new tumor models of triple-negative breast cancer, which may augment traditional analysis methods. Eleven human breast cancer cell lines were used to develop xenograft tumors in severe combined immunodeficient mice, with two of these cell lines exhibiting sufficient growth to be serially passaged. DW-MRI was performed to measure the distributions of the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) in these two tumor xenograft models, which showed a correlation with tumor growth rates and doubling times during each passage. The distributions of the ADC values were also correlated with expression of Ki67, a biomarker of cell proliferation, and hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-1a and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (VEGFR2), which are essential proteins involved in regulating aerobic glycolysis and angiogenesis that support tumor cell proliferation. Although phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) levels were different between the two xenograft models, AKT levels did not differ nor did they correlate with tumor growth. This last result demonstrates the complexity of signaling protein pathways and the difficulty in interpreting the effects of protein expression on tumor cell proliferation. In contrast, DW-MRI may be a more direct assessment of tumor growth and cancer cell proliferation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1273-1280
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012


  • Breast cancer
  • Diffusion-weighted MRI
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Mouse model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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