Vessel caliber--a potential MRI biomarker of tumour response in clinical trials

Nat Rev Clin Oncol. 2014 Oct;11(10):566-84. doi: 10.1038/nrclinonc.2014.126. Epub 2014 Aug 12.


Our understanding of the importance of blood vessels and angiogenesis in cancer has increased considerably over the past decades, and the assessment of tumour vessel calibre and structure has become increasingly important for in vivo monitoring of therapeutic response. The preferred method for in vivo imaging of most solid cancers is MRI, and the concept of vessel-calibre MRI has evolved since its initial inception in the early 1990s. Almost a quarter of a century later, unlike traditional contrast-enhanced MRI techniques, vessel-calibre MRI remains widely inaccessible to the general clinical community. The narrow availability of the technique is, in part, attributable to limited awareness and a lack of imaging standardization. Thus, the role of vessel-calibre MRI in early phase clinical trials remains to be determined. By contrast, regulatory approvals of antiangiogenic agents that are not directly cytotoxic have created an urgent need for clinical trials incorporating advanced imaging analyses, going beyond traditional assessments of tumour volume. To this end, we review the field of vessel-calibre MRI and summarize the emerging evidence supporting the use of this technique to monitor response to anticancer therapy. We also discuss the potential use of this biomarker assessment in clinical imaging trials and highlight relevant avenues for future research.

Trial registration: NCT00254943 NCT00662506 NCT00756106.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents / administration & dosage
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Blood Vessels / pathology*
  • Blood Vessels / ultrastructure
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology*


  • Angiogenesis Inducing Agents
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors
  • Biomarkers, Tumor

Associated data