Visualization of immunotoxin-mediated tumor cell death in vivo

Heidi A. Erickson, Richard L. Reinhardt, John B. Hermanson, Angela Panoskaltsis-Mortari, Christopher A. Pennell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We present a novel methodology to visualize tumor cells directly in a whole mouse. This technique combines immunohistochemistry with whole mouse sectioning. It lets one see the exact distribution of tumor cells throughout an animal and how effectively these cells are eliminated by cancer therapeutics. We used this technique to assess the efficacy of a T cell-specific immunotoxin in a severe combined immunodeficient mouse model of human T-cell leukemia. Severe combined immunodeficient mice were injected with one of two human T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia cell lines (Molt 3 and Molt 13) and were either left untreated or were treated with DA7, an immunotoxin specific for the T cell-associated antigen CD7. Mice were sacrificed after tumor cell injection and immunotoxin therapy, whole mouse cross-sections were prepared, and tumor cells in the sections were visualized by immunohistochemistry. No tumor cells were detected in DA7-treated mice injected with Molt 3, consistent with the long-term survival of this group and the sensitivity of Molt 3 to DA7 in vitro. In contrast, DA7 treatment did not visibly eliminate tumor cells in mice challenged with Molt 13, nor did it result in their long-term survival. Furthermore, tumor cells were detected in areas that may have otherwise been overlooked, and their distribution differed from that of mice injected with Molt 13 alone. These analyses indicate that whole mouse sectioning will be a valuable tool for assessing residual disease in the preclinical evaluation of cancer therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)890s-894s
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number11 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Mar 2001


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