Changes in water mobility measured by diffusion MRI predict response of metastatic breast cancer to chemotherapy

Neoplasia. Nov-Dec 2004;6(6):831-7. doi: 10.1593/neo.03343.


The goal of oncology is the individualization of patient care to optimize therapeutic responses and minimize toxicities. Achieving this will require noninvasive, quantifiable, and early markers of tumor response. Preclinical data from xenografted tumors using a variety of antitumor therapies have shown that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-measured mobility of tissue water (apparent diffusion coefficient of water, or ADCw) is a biomarker presaging cell death in the tumor. This communication tests the hypothesis that changes in water mobility will quantitatively presage tumor responses in patients with metastatic liver lesions from breast cancer. A total of 13 patients with metastatic breast cancer and 60 measurable liver lesions were monitored by diffusion MRI after initiation of new courses of chemotherapy. MR images were obtained prior to, and at 4, 11, and 39 days following the initiation of therapy for determination of volumes and ADCw values. The data indicate that diffusion MRI can predict response by 4 or 11 days after commencement of therapy, depending on the analytic method. The highest concordance was observed in tumor lesions that were less than 8 cm3 in volume at presentation. These results suggest that diffusion MRI can be useful to predict the response of liver metastases to effective chemotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / pharmacokinetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms, Male / pathology*
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Water / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Water