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Published March 2011 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Molecular photoacoustic imaging of angiogenesis with integrin-targeted gold nanobeacons


Photoacoustic tomography (PAT) combines optical and acoustic imaging to generate high-resolution images of microvasculature. Inherent sensitivity to hemoglobin permits PAT to image blood vessels but precludes discriminating neovascular from maturing microvasculature. Α_vβ_3-Gold nanobeacons (α_vβ_3-GNBs) for neovascular molecular PAT were developed, characterized, and demonstrated in vivo using a mouse Matrigel-plug model of angiogenesis. PAT results were microscopically corroborated with fluorescent α_vβ_3-GNB localization and supporting immunohistology in Rag1^(tm1Mom) Tg(Tie-2-lacZ)182-Sato mice. Α_vβ_3-GNBs (154 nm) had 10-fold greater contrast than blood on an equivolume basis when imaged at 740 nm to 810 nm in blood. The lowest detectable concentration in buffer was 290 nM at 780 nm. Noninvasive PAT of angiogenesis using a 10-MHz ultrasound receiver with α_vβ_3-GNBs produced a 600% increase in signal in a Matrigel-plug mouse model relative to the inherent hemoglobin contrast pretreatment. In addition to increasing the contrast of neovessels detected at baseline, α_vβ_3-GNBs allowed visualization of numerous angiogenic sprouts and bridges that were undetectable before contrast injection. Competitive inhibition of α_vβ_3-GNBs with α_vβ_3-NBs (no gold particles) almost completely blocked contrast enhancement to pretreatment levels, similar to the signal from animals receiving saline only. Consistent with other studies, nontargeted GNBs passively accumulated in the tortuous neovascular but provided less than half of the contrast enhancement of the targeted agent. Microscopic studies revealed that the vascular constrained, rhodamine-labeled α_vβ_3-GNBs homed specifically to immature neovasculature (PECAM+, Tie-2−) along the immediate tumor periphery, but not to nearby mature microvasculature (PECAM+, Tie-2+). The combination of PAT and α_vβ_3-GNBs offered sensitive and specific discrimination and quantification of angiogenesis in vivo, which may be clinically applicable to a variety of highly prevalent diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.—Pan, D., Pramanik, M., Senpan, A., Allen, J. S., Zhang, H., Wickline, S. A., Wang, L. V., Lanza, G. M. Molecular photoacoustic imaging of angiogenesis with integrin-targeted gold nanobeacons.

Additional Information

© 2011 Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Received for publication September 2, 2010. Accepted for publication November 4, 2010. Published online before print November 19, 2010. he authors greatly appreciate the financial support from the American Heart Association (grant 0835426N, to D.P.) and the U.S. National Institutes of Health (grants NS059302 and CA119342, to G.M.L.; HL073646, to S.A.W.; and U54 CA136398, R01 EB000712, and R01 EB008085, to L.W.). L.W. has a financial interest in Microphotoacoustics, Inc., and Endra, Inc.; neither provided material, financial, or intellectual support. D.P., G.M.L., M.P., and L.V.W. conceived the research and contributed to the experimental design. D.P. and A.S.P. performed the chemical syntheses, and M.P. performed the PA imaging and postprocessing. J.S.A. and M.P. created and managed the Matrigel rodent model. All authors contributed analysis and interpretation of the data. D.P., M.P., and G.L. wrote the manuscript. All authors read and edited the manuscript.

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August 19, 2023
October 20, 2023