Nonclinical Imaging Studies for the Diagnosis of Lymph Node Metastases
Nonclinical studies using animal models are essential to elucidate the pathogenesis of lymph node metastases and the application of imaging tests in this research field is very important because these tests can yield reliable results at the sacrifice of minimal number of animals.
Animal models and imaging modalities must be carefully selected to obtain fruitful results. Recently, imaging devices dedicated for small animal tests have been developed for various kinds of imaging modalities including combined scanners and they have contributed to the improvement of the quality of images of metastatic lesions in lymph nodes.
In the imaging study of lymph node metastases, direct detection of metastatic foci in lymph nodes is ideal. But, it is often difficult because early stages of metastatic lesions are too small to depict. Sentinel node mapping is an alternative way to diagnose small metastatic lesions in regional lymph nodes. Since new imaging modalities including optical imaging are recently proposed to identify sentinel nodes, nonclinical animal experiments to investigate these new imaging tests are attracting attentions of researchers.
Another idea to detect small metastatic foci is to observe the change in non-tumor areas of metastatic lymph nodes. As recent animal models can simulate tumor microenvironments in human tumors well, visualization of functional information inside lymph nodes such as immunological response in sentinel nodes is expected.
KeywordsLymph node metastases Small animal imaging Dedicated scanner Sentinel node
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