Multiscale and multi-modality visualization of angiogenesis in a human breast cancer model

Jana Cebulla, Eugene Kim, Kevin Rhie, Jiangyang Zhang, Arvind P. Pathak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Angiogenesis in breast cancer helps fulfill the metabolic demands of the progressing tumor and plays a critical role in tumor metastasis. Therefore, various imaging modalities have been used to characterize tumor angiogenesis. While micro-CT (μCT) is a powerful tool for analyzing the tumor microvascular architecture at micron-scale resolution, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with its sub-millimeter resolution is useful for obtaining in vivo vascular data (e.g. tumor blood volume and vessel size index). However, integration of these microscopic and macroscopic angiogenesis data across spatial resolutions remains challenging. Here we demonstrate the feasibility of 'multiscale' angiogenesis imaging in a human breast cancer model, wherein we bridge the resolution gap between ex vivo μCT and in vivo MRI using intermediate resolution ex vivo MR microscopy (μMRI). To achieve this integration, we developed suitable vessel segmentation techniques for the ex vivo imaging data and co-registered the vascular data from all three imaging modalities. We showcase two applications of this multiscale, multi-modality imaging approach: (1) creation of co-registered maps of vascular volume from three independent imaging modalities, and (2) visualization of differences in tumor vasculature between viable and necrotic tumor regions by integrating μCT vascular data with tumor cellularity data obtained using diffusion-weighted MRI. Collectively, these results demonstrate the utility of 'mesoscopic' resolution μMRI for integrating macroscopic in vivo MRI data and microscopic μCT data. Although focused on the breast tumor xenograft vasculature, our imaging platform could be extended to include additional data types for a detailed characterization of the tumor microenvironment and computational systems biology applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)695-709
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014


  • Breast cancer
  • Imaging
  • MR microscopy
  • MRI
  • Micro-CT
  • Multiscale

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cancer Research


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