Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate MRI-derived diffusion weighted imaging (DWI), 1H-MR spectroscopy (1H-MRS) and arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion imaging in comparison with 18F-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) PET with respect to diagnostic evaluation of pediatric diffuse midline gliomas (DMG) H3K27M-mutant and wild-type.
Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 22 pediatric patients with DMG histologically proved and molecularly classified as H3K27M-mutant (12 subjects) and wild-type (10 subjects) who underwent DWI, 1H-MRS, and ASL performed within 2 weeks of 18F-DOPA PET. DWI-derived relative minimum apparent diffusion coefficient (rADC min), 1H-MRS data [choline/N-acetylaspartate (Cho/NAA), choline/creatine (Cho/Cr), and presence of lactate] and relative ASL-derived cerebral blood flow max (rCBF max) were compared with 18F-DOPA uptake Tumor/Normal tissue (T/N) and Tumor/Striatum (T/S) ratios, and correlated with histological and molecular features of DMG. Statistics included Pearson's chi-square and Mann-Whitney U tests, Spearman's rank correlation and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis.
Results: The highest degrees of correlation among different techniques were found between T/S, rADC min and Cho/NAA ratio (p < 0.01), and between rCBF max and rADC min (p < 0.01). Significant differences between histologically classified low- and high-grade DMG, independently of H3K27M-mutation, were found among all imaging techniques (p ≤ 0.02). Significant differences in terms of rCBF max, rADC min, Cho/NAA and 18F-DOPA uptake were also found between molecularly classified mutant and wild-type DMG (p ≤ 0.02), even though wild-type DMG included low-grade astrocytomas, not present among mutant DMG. When comparing only histologically defined high-grade mutant and wild-type DMG, only the 18F-DOPA PET data T/S demonstrated statistically significant differences independently of histology (p < 0.003). ROC analysis demonstrated that T/S ratio was the best parameter for differentiating mutant from wild-type DMG (AUC 0.94, p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Advanced MRI and 18F-DOPA PET characteristics of DMG depend on histological features; however, 18F-DOPA PET-T/S was the only parameter able to discriminate H3K27M-mutant from wild-type DMG independently of histology.
Keywords: Arterial spin labeling; DOPA PET; Diffuse midline glioma; Diffusion weighted imaging; Magnetic resonance spectroscopy.