Correlation between NF1 genotype and imaging phenotype on whole-body MRI: NF1 radiogenomics

Neurology. 2020 Jun 16;94(24):e2521-e2531. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000009490. Epub 2020 Apr 28.


Objective: To investigate the genotype-phenotype correlation between neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) germline mutations and imaging features of neurofibromas on whole-body MRI (WBMRI) by using radiomics image analysis techniques.

Materials and methods: Twenty-nine patients with NF1 who had known germline mutations determined by targeted next-generation sequencing were selected from a previous WBMRI study using coronal short tau inversion recovery sequence. Each tumor was segmented in WBMRI and a set of 59 imaging features was calculated using our in-house volumetric image analysis platform, 3DQI. A radiomics heatmap of 59 imaging features was analyzed to investigate the per-tumor and per-patient associations between the imaging features and mutation domains and mutation types. Linear mixed-effect models and one-way analysis of variance tests were performed to assess the similarity of tumor imaging features within mutation groups, between mutation groups, and between randomly selected groups.

Results: A total of 218 neurofibromas (97 discrete neurofibromas and 121 plexiform neurofibromas) were identified in 19 of the 29 patients. The unsupervised hierarchical clustering in heatmap analysis revealed 6 major image feature patterns that were significantly correlated with gene mutation domains and types with strong to very strong associations of genotype-phenotype correlations in both per-tumor and per-patient studies (p < 0.05, Cramer V > 0.5), whereas tumor size and locations showed no correlations with imaging features (p = 0.79 and p = 0.42, respectively). The statistical analyses revealed that the number of significantly different features (SDFs) within mutation groups were significantly lower than those between mutation groups (mutation domains: 10.9 ± 9.5% vs 31.9 ± 23.8% and mutation types: 31.8 ± 30.7% vs 52.6 ± 29.3%). The first and second quartile p values of within-patient groups were more than 2 times higher than those between-patient groups. However, the numbers of SDFs between randomly selected groups were much lower (approximately 5.2%).

Conclusion: This preliminary study identified the NF1 radiogenomics linkage between NF1 causative mutations and MRI radiomic features, i.e., the correlation between NF1 genotype and imaging phenotype on WBMRI.

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

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genotype
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurofibroma / diagnostic imaging
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / genetics*
  • Phenotype
  • Whole Body Imaging