Contrast enhancement of glioblastomas (GBM) is caused by the decrease in relaxation time, T1. Here, we demonstrate that the quantitative measurement of T1 (qT1) discovers a subtle enhancement in GBM patients that is invisible in standard MRI. We assessed the volume change of this "cloudy" enhancement during radio-chemotherapy and its impact on patients' progression-free survival (PFS). We enrolled 18 GBM patients in this observational, prospective cohort study and measured 3T-MRI pre- and post contrast agent with standard T1-weighted (T1w) and with sequences to quantify T1 before radiation, and at 6-week intervals during radio-chemotherapy. We measured contrast enhancement by subtracting pre from post contrast contrast images, yielding relative signal increase ∆T1w and relative T1 shortening ∆qT1. On ∆qT1, we identified a solid and a cloudy-enhancing compartment and evaluated the impact of their therapy-related volume change upon PFS. In ∆qT1 maps cloudy-enhancing compartments were found in all but two patients at baseline and in all patients during therapy. The qT1 decrease in the cloudy-enhancing compartment post contrast was 21.64% versus 1.96% in the contralateral control tissue (P < 0.001). It was located at the margin of solid enhancement which was also seen on T1w. In contrast, the cloudy-enhancing compartment was visually undetectable on ∆T1w. A volume decrease of more than 21.4% of the cloudy-enhancing compartment at first follow-up predicted longer PFS (P = 0.038). Cloudy-enhancing compartment outside the solid contrast-enhancing area of GBM is a new observation which is only visually detectable with qT1-mapping and may represent tumor infiltration. Its early volume decrease predicts a longer PFS in GBM patients during standard radio-chemotherapy.
Keywords: Cloudy-enhancing compartment; T1-mapping; glioblastoma; progression-free survival PFS; quantitative MRI.
© 2016 The Authors. Cancer Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.