Application of Polarization Sensitive-Optical Coherence Tomography to the Assessment of Phase Retardation in Subpleural Cancer in Rabbits



Polarization sensitive-optical coherence tomography (PS-OCT) provides the unique advantage of being able to measure the optical characteristics of tissues by using polarized light. Although the well-organized fibers of healthy muscle can change the polarization states of passing light, damaged tissue has different behaviors. There are studies on optical imaging methods applied to the respiratory organs; however, they are restricted to structural imaging. In particular, the intercostal muscle situated under the pleura is very challenging to visualize due to the difficulty of access.


In this study, PS-OCT was used to identify subpleural cancer in male New Zealand white rabbits (3.2–3.4 kg) and to assess the phase retardation changes in normal and cancerous chest walls. VX2 cell suspension was injected between the intercostal muscle and parietal pleura and a tented area was observed by thoracic scope. A group of rabbits (n = 3) were sacrificed at day 7 after injection and another group (n = 3) at day 14.


In the PS-OCT images, pleura thickness changes and muscle damage were criteria to understand the stages of the disease. The results of image and phase retardation analysis matched well with the pathologic examinations.


We were able to visualize and analyze subpleural cancer by PS-OCT, which provided structural and functional information. The measured phase retardation could help to identify the margin of the tumor. For further studies, various approaches into other diseases using polarization light are expected to have positive results.

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This study was supported by a Grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) (2017R1D1A1B03035048, 2019M3E5D1A02070860, 2019M3E5D1A02070865, 2019M3E5D1A02070866).

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Correspondence to Yeh-Chan Ahn or Chulho Oak.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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The animal studies were performed after receiving approval of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUS) in Kosin University College of Medicine (IACUC approval No. KMAP-16–11).

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Park, JE., Xin, Z., Kwon, D.Y. et al. Application of Polarization Sensitive-Optical Coherence Tomography to the Assessment of Phase Retardation in Subpleural Cancer in Rabbits. Tissue Eng Regen Med (2021).

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  • Subpleural cancer
  • Polarization sensitive
  • Optical coherence tomography