Magnetic Resonance Guided High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Mediated Hyperthermia Improves the Intratumoral Distribution of Temperature-Sensitive Liposomal Doxorubicin

Mariska de Smet, Nicole M. Hijnen, Sander Langereis, Aaldert Elevelt, Edwin Heijman, Ludwig Dubois, Philippe Lambin, Holger Grull*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the intratumoral distribution of a temperature-sensitive liposomal carrier and its encapsulated compounds, doxorubicin, and a magnetic resonance (MR) imaging contrast agent after high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU)-mediated hyperthermia-induced local drug release. Materials and Methods: In-111-labeled temperature-sensitive liposomes encapsulating doxorubicin and [Gd(HPDO3A) (H2O)] were injected intravenously in the tail vein of rats (n = 12) bearing a subcutaneous rhabdomyosarcoma tumor on the hind leg. Immediately after the injection, local tumor hyperthermia (2 x 15 minutes) was applied using a clinical 3 T MR-HIFU system. Release of [Gd(HPDO3A) (H2O)] was studied in vivo by measuring the longitudinal relaxation rate R-1 with MR imaging. The presence of the liposomal carriers and the intratumoral distribution of doxorubicin were imaged ex vivo with autoradiography and fluorescence microscopy, respectively, for 2 different time points after injection (90 minutes and 48 hours). Results: In hyperthermia-treated tumors, radiolabeled liposomes were distributed more homogeneously across the tumor than in the control tumors (coefficient of variation(hyp, 90 min) = 0.7 +/- 0.2; coefficient of variation(cntrl, 90 min) = 1.1 +/- 0.2). At 48 hours after injection, the liposomal accumulation in the tumor was enhanced in the hyperthermia group in comparison with the controls. A change in R-1 was observed in the HIFU-treated tumors, suggesting release of the contrast agent. Fluorescence images showed perivascular doxorubicin in control tumors, whereas in the HIFU-treated tumors, the delivered drug was spread over a much larger area and also taken up by tumor cells at a larger distance from blood vessels. Conclusions: Treatment with HIFU hyperthermia not only improved the immediate drug delivery, bioavailability, and intratumoral distribution but also enhanced liposomal accumulation over time. The sum of these effects may have a significant contribution to the therapeutic outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-405
JournalInvestigative Radiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • intratumoral distribution
  • temperature-sensitive liposomes
  • high-intensity
  • focused ultrasound
  • hyperthermia
  • doxorubicin

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