E7130 is a novel anticancer agent created from total synthetic study of the natural compound norhalichondrin B. In addition to inhibiting microtubule dynamics, E7130 also ameliorates tumor-promoting aspects of the tumor microenvironment (TME) by suppressing cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) and promoting remodeling of tumor vasculature. Here, we demonstrate TME amelioration by E7130 using multi-imaging modalities, including multiplexed mass cytometry [cytometry by time-of-flight (CyTOF)] analysis, multiplex IHC analysis, and MRI. Experimental solid tumors characterized by large numbers of CAFs in TME were treated with E7130. E7130 suppressed LAP-TGFβ1 production, a precursor of TGFβ1, in CAFs but not in cancer cells; an effect that was accompanied by a reduction of circulating TGFβ1 in plasma. To our best knowledge, this is the first report to show a reduction of TGFβ1 production in TME. Furthermore, multiplex IHC analysis revealed reduced cellularity and increased TUNEL-positive apoptotic cells in E7130-treated xenografts. Increased microvessel density (MVD) and collagen IV (Col IV), an extracellular matrix (ECM) component associated with endothelial cells, were also observed in the TME, and plasma Col IV levels were also increased by E7130 treatment. MRI revealed increased accumulation of a contrast agent in xenografts. Moreover, diffusion-weighted MRI after E7130 treatment indicated reduction of tumor cellularity and interstitial fluid pressure. Overall, our findings strongly support the mechanism of action that E7130 alters the TME in therapeutically beneficial ways. Importantly, from a translational perspective, our data demonstrated MRI as a noninvasive biomarker to detect TME amelioration by E7130, supported by consistent changes in plasma biomarkers.

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