Imaging Sciences

In Vivo Optical Imaging

Representative Publications

In Vivo Optical ImagingS. Mitra, K. Dolan, T.H. Foster, and M. Wellington. Imaging morphogenesis of Candida albicans during infection in a live animal. J. Biomed. Opt. 15, 010504 (2010). [Medline]

S. Mitra and T.H. Foster. In vivo confocal fluorescence imaging of the intratumor distribution of the photosensitizer mono-L-aspartylchlorin-e6 (NPe6). Neoplasia 10, 429-438 (2008). [Medline]

R.J. Cummings, S. Mitra, E.M. Lord, and T.H. Foster. Antibody-labeled fluorescence imaging of dendritic cell populations in vivo. J. Biomed. Opt. 13 , 044041 (2008).

K. Santos, D.A.L. Simon, E. Conway, W.J. Bowers, S. Mitra, T.H. Foster, A. Lugade, E.M. Lord, H.J. Federoff, S. Dewhurst, and J.G. Frelinger. Spatial and temporal expression of HSV-1 amplicon encoded genes: implications for their use as immunization vectors. Hum. Gene Ther. 18, 93-105 (2007). [Medline]

Description of Research

In our lab, we have examined the PDT-stress-mediated HSP70 activation and its relation to cellular toxicity in a mouse tumor cell line, which was transfected with a plasmid consisting of a fluorescent reporter gene (GFP) under the control of an hsp70 promoter. This has allowed us to study the PDT-mediated inducible expression of HSP70 in living specimens in vitro and in vivo using fluorescence imaging.

HSP70-in_vivo image

hsp70 promoter driven GFP expression in control (a) and PDT-treated (b) tumors

Several recent studies have established that HSPs may play a pivotal role in antitumor immunity in vivo by activating dendritic cells and enhancing host cell infiltration. With this in mind, our present studies are also focused on using sub-lethal doses of PDT to activate HSP induction in a strategy where PDT is not intended to be curative but is used instead to prime a tumor-specific immune response. Toward this end, we are developing fluorophore-conjugated antibody-targeted imaging of host cell infiltration into tumors in response to PDT and ionizing radiation therapy.


In vivo confocal fluorescence image of
neutrophil (red) infiltration in PDT treated tumor.
CD31-positive anatomic vasculature is labeled
in green.

PDT is known to induce hypoxia via photochemical oxygen depletion and by disrupting the tumor vasculature. We have developed two stably-transfected mouse mammary cancer cell lines to investigate the PDT-mediated hypoxia-independent activation of the hypoxia inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) pathway. In the first of these cell lines, the expression of GFP is under the control of five copies of the hypoxia response element (HRE) promoter of the human VEGF gene. The other cell line is transfected with a vector coding for the expression of a HIF-1a – GFP fusion protein, which enables direct visualization of the nuclear translocation of HIF-1a. Using these two cell lines, we established that PDT initiates both translocation of HIF-1 a and the activation of the HRE promoter under conditions of abundant oxygen.

HIF-1a_translocation image

Translocation of HIF-1a – GFP fusion protein from the cytosol (a) to the nucleus (b)
in response to PDT.

Molecular imaging studies with a variety of collaborators are underway.


Thomas Foster
University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 648
Rochester, NY 14642