Dynamic oxygen challenge evaluated by NMR T1 and T2*--insights into tumor oxygenation

NMR Biomed. 2015 Aug;28(8):937-947. doi: 10.1002/nbm.3325. Epub 2015 Jun 8.


There is intense interest in developing non-invasive prognostic biomarkers of tumor response to therapy, particularly with regard to hypoxia. It has been suggested that oxygen sensitive MRI, notably blood oxygen level-dependent (BOLD) and tissue oxygen level-dependent (TOLD) contrast, may provide relevant measurements. This study examined the feasibility of interleaved T2*- and T1-weighted oxygen sensitive MRI, as well as R2* and R1 maps, of rat tumors to assess the relative sensitivity to changes in oxygenation. Investigations used cohorts of Dunning prostate R3327-AT1 and R3327-HI tumors, which are reported to exhibit distinct size-dependent levels of hypoxia and response to hyperoxic gas breathing. Proton MRI R1 and R2* maps were obtained for tumors of anesthetized rats (isoflurane/air) at 4.7 T. Then, interleaved gradient echo T2*- and T1-weighted images were acquired during air breathing and a 10 min challenge with carbogen (95% O2 -5% CO2). Signals were stable during air breathing, and each type of tumor showed a distinct signal response to carbogen. T2* (BOLD) response preceded T1 (TOLD) responses, as expected. Smaller HI tumors (reported to be well oxygenated) showed the largest BOLD and TOLD responses. Larger AT1 tumors (reported to be hypoxic and resist modulation by gas breathing) showed the smallest response. There was a strong correlation between BOLD and TOLD signal responses, but ΔR2* and ΔR1 were only correlated for the HI tumors. The magnitude of BOLD and TOLD signal responses to carbogen breathing reflected expected hypoxic fractions and oxygen dynamics, suggesting potential value of this test as a prognostic biomarker of tumor hypoxia.

Keywords: BOLD; MRI; TOLD; carbogen; hypoxia; oxygen; prostate; tumor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carbon Dioxide / administration & dosage*
  • Carbon Dioxide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Oximetry / methods
  • Oxygen / administration & dosage
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / pharmacokinetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Contrast Media
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • carbogen
  • Oxygen