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Alabdulqader, Alangari, Niaz, Chen, Howison, and Pagel: Measurement of tumour acidosis using chemical exchange saturation transfer MRI technique

Introduction: The cancer environment is often characterized by an acidic extracellular pH (pHe), which has an impact on tumour pathology and treatment. Low pHe has been found to correlate with increased gene mutation and rearrangement rate, as well as with altered expression in tumours. Low pHe seems to also affect the therapeutic effect of chemotherapy. We have recently developed a new method using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that can accurately measure pH throughout the entire tumour by employing an innovative detection method known as chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST).

Objectives: This study evaluates if the pH of the contrast agent injection influences the tumour pHe measurement with CEST MRI technique.

Materials and methods: SCID mice with MDA-MB-231 breast tumours were used. The control group consisted of age-matched normal mice. Tumour pHe environment was measured in both groups in the presence or absence of the contrast (pHs 7.3, 6.8 or 6.3) using CEST MRI technique.

Result: The measurements of tumour pHe (six measurements per group) were not statistically different (P > 0.05) when using injection solutions with pHs 7.28, 6.95 and 6.35. The pHe measurements were statistically different (P < 0.05) relative to injection solutions at pHs 7.28 and 6.35. Therefore, the pH of the injection solution does not influence the measurement of tumour acidosis.

Conclusions: We can measure pHe of the whole tumour with good accuracy and precision and without tissue invasion. The pH of the injection solution does not influence the measurement of tumour pHe.

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the University of Arizona Cancer Center and the National Cancer Institute under grants P50-CA95060 and 1R01CA167183-01. A Alabdulqader, F Alangari and G Niaz were supported by the summer training programme by Al-Imam Muhammad ibn Saud Islamic University. L Chen is supported by a Technology and Research Initiative Fund Imaging Fellowship from the state of Arizona.

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