After an initial response to chemotherapy, tumor relapse is frequent. This event is reflective of both the spatiotemporal heterogeneities of the tumor microenvironment as well as the evolutionary propensity of cancer cell populations to adapt to variable conditions. Because the cause of this adaptation could be genetic or epigenetic, studying phenotypic properties such as tumor metabolism is useful as it reflects molecular, cellular, and tissue-level dynamics. In triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), the characteristic metabolic phenotype is a highly fermentative state. However, during treatment, the spatial and temporal dynamics of the metabolic landscape are highly unstable, with surviving populations taking on a variety of metabolic states. Thus, longitudinally imaging tumor metabolism provides a promising approach to inform therapeutic strategies, and to monitor treatment responses to understand and mitigate recurrence. Here we summarize some examples of the metabolic plasticity reported in TNBC following chemotherapy and review the current metabolic imaging techniques available in monitoring chemotherapy responses clinically and preclinically. The ensemble of imaging technologies we describe has distinct attributes that make them uniquely suited for a particular length scale, biological model, and/or features that can be captured. We focus on TNBC to highlight the potential of each of these technological advances in understanding evolution-based therapeutic resistance.

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