Many brain tumors are highly resistant to chemotherapy, presumably due to the presence of a tight blood-tumor barrier. For a better understanding of the regulation of this barrier by the brain environment, a new intravital microscopy model was established by transplanting tumor tissue into cranial windows in both rats and mice. The model was characterized by RBC velocities, vessel diameters, and vascular permeabilities of various tumors: R3230AC (a rat mammary adenocarcinoma), MCaIV (a mouse mammary adenocarcinoma), and U87 and HGL21 (human malignant astrocytomas). Our results showed that tumor blood flow in cranial windows was one to three orders of magnitude lower than the blood flow in pial vessels and similar to that in dorsal skin-fold chambers observed in previous studies. The mean vessel diameter ranged from 6.8 ± 1.3 µm for HGL21 to 30.4 ± 8.5 µm for MCaIV. At least one order of magnitude difference in vascular permeability to albumin was observed between tumor lines: 0.11 ± 0.05×10-7 cm/s for HGL21 versus 3.8 ± 1.2×10-7 cm/s for U87. The low vascular permeability of HGL21, which was also confirmed by both sodium fluorescein and Lissamine green injections, suggests that not all tumors are leaky to tracer molecules and that the blood-tumor barrier of this tumor still possesses some characteristics of blood-brain barrier as observed in other intracranial tumors. The model presented here will allow us to manipulate the vascular permeability in brain tumors and thus may provide new information on the regulation of the blood-tumor barrier and new strategies for improving drug delivery in brain tumors.

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Supported by NIH Grant R35-CA-56591. Preliminary results of this work have been presented at the 20th Annual Meeting of the Microcirculatory Society, 1994, and the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Radiation Research Society, 1994.

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