Preclinical Optical Imaging

Optical ImagingThe UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Small Animal Optical Imaging service provides expertise and equipment that enable researchers to quickly, easily, and inexpensively answer technical questions related to in vivo events in small animal rodent models.

Optical imaging:

  • uses bioluminescence or fluorescence to measure and characterize real-time molecular events in vivo to produce both quantitative and qualitative data
  • measures multiple events simultaneously within the same host
  • provides for short imaging times (acquisition times of 1 second to 5 minutes), and imaging of multiple animals (up to 5) simultaneously for more rapid screening
  • can provide important pre-clinical information that can augment data from other imaging modalities (PET-CT and MRI)

The technical experts provide training for investigators using in vivo models to study cancer biology and therapy response including consultation, training, and support.

Examples of cancer-relevant uses include:

  • quantitative longitudinal measurement of tumor development, metastasis, angiogenesis, and response to therapy
  • trafficking of cellular and other biological therapies (e.g., immune cell, stem cell, or viral therapeutic platforms or antibodies, peptides, metabolites, etc.)
  • monitoring of host immune cell responses
  • distribution, quantification, and kinetic analyses of gene expression or enzymatic activity in vivo

Optical Imaging Equipment and Services

IVIS 200, Perkin-Elmer FMT2500, and IVIS LuminaThe optical imaging suite is equipped with:

  • IVIS 200 system (Xenogen, part of Caliper Life Sciences, now part of Perkin Elmer), with full bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging capabilities
  • FMT2500 fluorescence tomographic imaging device (VisEn, now part of Perkin Elmer), enabling the study of up to 4 fluorescent channels with different reporters.
  • Lumina XR system (Caliper Life Sciences, now part of Perkin Elmer) with bioluminescence, fluorescence and x-ray imaging capabilities

The optical imaging modality offers various reagents for imaging experiments, including a variety of luciferase or fluorescent protein-labeled tumor cell lines for in vivo modeling, as well as retroviral- and plasmid-based constructs (and protocols) to generate cell lines that stably express luciferase or fluorescent proteins.

The IVIF also provides several transgenic mouse models (currently bred in-house on a C57/BL6 background) that universally expresses both luciferase and green fluorescent protein (GFP) from all tissues (including all hematopoietic lineages). The universal luciferase donor strains remain as sources for purification of immune cell subsets, tissues or organs ex vivo for transfer into naïve, unlabeled animals such that cell trafficking or tissue survival can be studied by bioluminescence imaging, and transferred cells studied post mortem by cellular GFP imaging or flow cytometry. Staff provides the expertise in isolating the labeled cells of interest from this transgenic line for use as donor cells in unlabeled animals.