Multimodality molecular imaging of disease progression in living subjects
The enormous advances in our understanding of the progression of diseases at the molecular level have been supplemented by the new field of ‘molecular imaging’, which provides for in vivo visualization of molecular events at the cellular level in living organisms. Molecular imaging is a noninvasive assessment of gene and protein function, protein–protein interaction and/or signal transduction pathways in animal models of human disease and in patients to provide insights into molecular pathogenesis. Five major imaging techniques are currently available to assess the structural and functional alterations in vivo in small animals. These are
optical bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging techniques,
radionuclide-based positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emitted computed tomography (SPECT),
X-ray-based computed tomography (CT),
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and
ultrasound imaging (US).
Functional molecular imaging requires an imaging probe that is specific for a given molecular event. In preclinical imaging, involving small animal models, the imaging probe could be an element of a direct (`direct imaging’) or an indirect (`indirect imaging’) event. Reporter genes are essential for indirect imaging and provide a general integrated platform for many different applications. Applications of multimodality imaging using combinations of bioluminescent, fluorescent and PET reporter genes in unified fusion vectors developed by us for recording events from single live cells to whole animals with high sensitivity and accurate quantification are discussed. Such approaches have immense potential to track progression of metastasis, immune cell trafficking, stem cell therapy, transgenic animals and even molecular interactions in living subjects.
Volume 45, 2020
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