AUTHORS: Croci D, Santalla Méndez R, Temme S, Soukup K, Fournier N, Zomer A, Colotti R, Wischnewski V, Flögel U, van Heeswijk RB, Joyce JA

Science Translational Medicine, 19(14(667)): eabo2952, October 2022


High-grade gliomas, the most common and aggressive primary brain tumors, are characterized by a complex tumor microenvironment (TME). Among the immune cells infiltrating the glioma TME, tumor-associated microglia and macrophages (TAMs) constitute the major compartment. In patients with gliomas, increased TAM abundance is associated with more aggressive disease. Alterations in TAM phenotypes and functions have been reported in preclinical models of multiple cancers during tumor development and after therapeutic interventions, including radiotherapy and molecular targeted therapies. These findings indicate that it is crucial to evaluate TAM abundance and dynamics over time. Current techniques to quantify TAMs in patients rely mainly on histological staining of tumor biopsies. Although informative, these techniques require an invasive procedure to harvest the tissue sample and typically only result in a snapshot of a small region at a single point in time. Fluorine isotope 19 MRI (19F MRI) represents a powerful means to noninvasively and longitudinally monitor myeloid cells in pathological conditions by intravenously injecting perfluorocarbon-containing nanoparticles (PFC-NP). In this study, we demonstrated the feasibility and power of 19F MRI in preclinical models of gliomagenesis, breast-to-brain metastasis, and breast cancer and showed that the major cellular source of 19F signal consists of TAMs. Moreover, multispectral 19F MRI with two different PFC-NP allowed us to identify spatially and temporally distinct TAM niches in radiotherapy-recurrent murine gliomas. Together, we have imaged TAMs noninvasively and longitudinally with integrated cellular, spatial, and temporal resolution, thus revealing important biological insights into the critical functions of TAMs, including in disease recurrence.


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