Purpose: Hypoxia measurements can provide crucial information regarding tumor aggressiveness, however current preclinical approaches are limited. Blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) has the potential to continuously monitor tumor pathophysiology (including hypoxia). The aim of this preliminary work was to develop and evaluate BOLD MRI followed by post-image analysis to identify regions of hypoxia in a murine glioblastoma (GBM) model.
Methods: A murine orthotopic GBM model (GL261-luc2) was used and independent images were generated from multiple slices in four different mice. Image slices were randomized and split into training and validation cohorts. A 7 T MRI was used to acquire anatomical images using a fast-spin-echo (FSE) T2-weighted sequence. BOLD images were taken with a T2*-weighted gradient echo (GRE) and an oxygen challenge. Thirteen images were evaluated in a training cohort to develop the MRI sequence and optimize post-image analysis. An in-house MATLAB code was used to evaluate MR images and generate hypoxia maps for a range of thresholding and ΔT2* values, which were compared against respective pimonidazole sections to optimize image processing parameters. The remaining (n = 6) images were used as a validation group. Following imaging, mice were injected with pimonidazole and collected for immunohistochemistry (IHC). A test of correlation (Pearson's coefficient) and agreement (Bland-Altman plot) were conducted to evaluate the respective MRI slices and pimonidazole IHC sections.
Results: For the training cohort, the optimized parameters of "thresholding" (20 ≤ T2* ≤ 35 ms) and ΔT2* (±4 ms) yielded a Pearson's correlation of 0.697. These parameters were applied to the validation cohort confirming a strong Pearson's correlation (0.749) when comparing the respective analyzed MR and pimonidazole images.
Conclusion: Our preliminary study supports the hypothesis that BOLD MRI is correlated with pimonidazole measurements of hypoxia in an orthotopic GBM mouse model. This technique has further potential to monitor hypoxia during tumor development and therapy.
Keywords: BOLD; Glioblastoma; Hypoxia; MRI; Pimonidazole.
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