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Technical Note: Non-Invasive monitoring of normal tissue radiation damage using spectral quantitative ultrasound spectroscopy


Rafat MMarjan , Kaffas AEAhmed El , Swarnakar AAnkush , Shostak AAnastasia , Graves EEEdward E . Medical physics. 2022 12 23; ().


BACKGROUND: While radiation therapy (RT) is a critical component of breast cancer therapy and is known to decrease overall local recurrence rates, recent studies have shown that normal tissue radiation damage may increase recurrence risk. Fibrosis is a well-known consequence of RT, but the specific sequence of molecular and mechanical changes induced by RT remains poorly understood.

PURPOSE: To improve cancer therapy outcomes, there is a need to understand the role of the irradiated tissue microenvironment in tumor recurrence. This study seeks to evaluate the use of spectral quantitative ultrasound (spectral QUS) for real time determination of the normal tissue characteristic radiation response and to correlate these results to molecular features in irradiated tissues.

METHODS: Murine mammary fat pads (MFPs) were irradiated to 20 Gy, and spectral QUS was used to analyze tissue physical properties pre-irradiation as well as at 1, 5, and 10 days post-irradiation. Tissues were processed for scanning electron microscopy imaging as well as histological and immunohistochemical staining to evaluate morphology and structure.

RESULTS: Tissue morphological and structural changes were observed non-invasively following radiation using mid-band fit (MBF), spectral slope (SS), and spectral intercept (SI) measurements obtained from spectral QUS. Statistically significant shifts in MBF and SI indicate structural tissue changes in real time, which matched histological observations. Radiation damage was indicated by increased adipose tissue density and extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate the potential of using spectral QUS to non-invasively evaluate normal tissue changes resulting from radiation damage. This supports further pre-clinical studies to determine how the tissue microenvironment and physical properties change in response to therapy, which may be important for improving treatment strategies. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.