Background: Gadolinium-ethoxybenzyl-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid (Gd-EOB-DTPA) is an MRI contrast agent with perfusion and hepatoselective properties. The purpose of the study was to examine uptake of Gd-EOB-DTPA in the hepatobiliary phase in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods: A retrospective analysis of 22 patients with HCC who underwent preoperative Gd-EOB-DTPA-enhanced MRI was performed. Enhancement ratios (ERs) and expression levels of the organic anion transporter (OATP) 1B3 protein were examined.
Results: Gd-EOB-DTPA accumulated in the hepatobiliary phase in 6 of the 22 cases. All 6 Gd-EOB-DTPA-positive cases were moderately differentiated HCC, but 11 other moderately differentiated HCCs did not show Gd-EOB-DTPA uptake. Histopathologically, 4 Gd-EOB-DTPA-positive HCCs and 5 Gd-EOB-DTPA-negative HCCs produced bile. HCCs with Gd-EOB-DTPA uptake overexpressed OATP1B3 compared with HCCs without Gd-EOB-DTPA uptake, and OATP1B3 levels were significantly correlated with ERs (r=0.91, P<0.0001).
Conclusions: Uptake of Gd-EOB-DTPA in HCC is determined by expression of OATP1B3 rather than by tumor differentiation or bile production.