Biomechanical assessment of chronic liver injury using quantitative micro-elastography

Alireza Mowla, Rose Belford, Julia Kohn-Gaone, Nathan Main, Janina E. E. Tirnitz-Parker, George C. Yeoh, Brendan F. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most lethal cancers worldwide, causing almost 700,000 deaths annually. It mainly arises from cirrhosis, which, in turn, results from chronic injury to liver cells and corresponding fibrotic changes. Although it is known that chronic liver injury increases the elasticity of liver tissue, the role of increased elasticity of the microenvironment as a possible hepatocarcinogen is yet to be investigated. One reason for this is the paucity of imaging techniques capable of mapping the micro-scale elasticity variation in liver and correlating that with cancerous mechanisms on the cellular scale. The clinical techniques of ultrasound elastography and magnetic resonance elastography typically do not provide micro-scale resolution, while atomic force microscopy can only assess the elasticity of a limited number of cells. We propose quantitative micro-elastography (QME) for mapping the micro-scale elasticity of liver tissue into images known as micro-elastograms, and therefore, as a technique capable of correlating the micro-environment elasticity of tissue with cellular scale cancerous mechanisms in liver. We performed QME on 13 freshly excised healthy and diseased mouse livers and present micro-elastograms, together with co-registered histology, in four representative cases. Our results indicate a significant increase in the mean (x6.3) and standard deviation (x6.0) of elasticity caused by chronic liver injury and demonstrate that the onset and progression of pathological features such as fibrosis, hepatocyte damage, and immune cell infiltration correlate with localized variations in micro-elastograms. (C) 2022 Optica Publishing Group under the terms of the Optica Open Access Publishing Agreement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5050-5066
Number of pages17
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


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