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Preclinical experimental models of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) that recapitulate human disease represent an important tool to study tumorigenesis and evaluate novel therapeutic approaches. Non-invasive whole-body imaging using positron emission tomography (PET) provides critical insights into the in vivo characteristics of tissues at the molecular level in real-time. We present here a protocol for orthotopic HCC xenograft creation with and without hepatic artery ligation (HAL) to induce tumor hypoxia and the assessment of their tumor metabolism in vivo using [18F]Fluoromisonidazole ([18F]FMISO) and [18F]Fluorodeoxyglucose ([18F]FDG) PET/magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. Tumor hypoxia could be readily visualized using the hypoxia marker [18F]FMISO, and it was found that the [18F]FMISO uptake was higher in HCC mice that underwent HAL than in the non-HAL group, whereas [18F]FDG could not distinguish tumor hypoxia between the two groups. HAL tumors also displayed a higher level of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α expression in response to hypoxia. Quantification of HAL tumors showed a 2.3-fold increase in [18F]FMISO uptake based on the standardized value uptake (SUV) approach.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vis Exp

Publication Date



Animals, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Disease Models, Animal, Fluorodeoxyglucose F18, Humans, Hypoxia, Liver Neoplasms, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Mice, Misonidazole, Positron-Emission Tomography, Radiopharmaceuticals