In this work, we propose using spectro-polarimetric imaging to monitor tumors growth of non-pigmented intra-dermal grafted tumors on murine models. We use for this purpose a full Mueller imaging polarimeter operating in the near infrared range. The injection site was imaged twice a week with our system from day 1 to the sacrifice of the mice while, in parallel, tumor volume was evaluated using standard caliper measurements. 40 nude mice were injected with a nonpigmented cancerous cell line (MDA) to produce intra-dermal tumors and separated into three different groups. The first group, called “early”, received a Docetaxel treatment as soon as the polarization signal detected a change in the tissue matrix, the second one received the Docetaxel treatment as soon as the tumor reached an estimated volume of 20 mm3 and the last group, was used as a control group. We demonstrate that early detection of tumor development based on depolarization metrics permits to control the tumor growth. We show also that while the tumor grows the depolarization contrast decreases while spectral contrasts appear. We observe also a change in fiber orientation around the tumor at the necrotic stage. This is highlighted by the azimuthal retardance orientation extracted from the polar decomposition of the Mueller matrix. This study confirms the usefulness of polarimetric contrast for tumor detection and monitoring. In the future, a precise characterization of different stages of tumor development could be useful for drug efficiency assessment in small-animal studies or in clinical applications.
The process of tumor growth is a phenomenon which, if understood better, could greatly improve the diagnostic and treatment of patients. In this context, the use of polarimetric imaging can offer more information than classical imaging methods. Here we use a new kind of calibration-free spectro-polarimeter which can be helpful for optical biopsy. Fifty different mice have been studied in full Mueller polarimetry with this device. Some were injected with very pigmented melanoma cells, others with non-pigmented breast cancer cells. Variations in depolarization were measured throughout this study: melanomas were accompanied with intense drops in depolarization, while mice injected with breast cancer cells showed a more diffuse decrease in depolarization. The study confirmed the potential of polarimetric imaging as an optical biopsy tool.