Does perfusion computed tomography correlate to pathology in colorectal liver metastases?

PLoS One. 2021 Jan 26;16(1):e0245764. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245764. eCollection 2021.


Introduction: Targeted therapy against tumor angiogenesis is widely used in clinical practice for patients with colorectal liver metastases (CRLM). Possible predictive biomarkers for tumor angiogenesis, such as, microvessel density (MVD), hypoxia and cell proliferation, can be determined using immunohistochemical staining. However, patients ineligible for surgical treatment need to undergo invasive diagnostic interventions in order to determine these biomarkers. CT perfusion (CTP) is an emerging functional imaging technique, which can non-invasively determine vascular properties of solid tumors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate CTP with histological biomarkers in CRLM.

Material and methods: Patients with CRLM underwent CTP one day before liver surgery. CTP analysis was performed on the entire volume of the largest metastases in each patient. Dual-input maximum slope analysis was used and data concerning arterial flow (AF), portal flow (PF) and perfusion index (PI) were recorded. Immunohistochemical staining with CD34, M75/CA-IX and MIB-1 was performed on the rim in the midsection of the tumor to determine respectively MVD, hypoxia and cell proliferation.

Results: Twenty CRLM in 20 patients were studied. Mean size of the largest CRLM was 37 mm (95% CI 21-54 mm). Mean AF and PF were respectively 64 ml/min/100ml (95% CI 48-79) and 30 ml/min/100ml (95% CI 22-38). Mean PI was 68% (95% CI 62-73). No significant correlation was found between tumor growth patterns and CTP (p = 0.95). MVD did not significantly correlate to AF (r = 0.05; p = 0.84), PF (r = 0.17; p = 0.47) and PI (r = -0.12; p = 0.63). Cell proliferation also did not significantly correlate to AF (r = 0.07; p = 0.78), PF (r = -0.01; p = 0.95) and PI (r = 0.15; p = 0.52). Hypoxia did not significantly correlate to AF (r = -0.05; p = 0.83), however, significantly to PF (r = 0.51; p = 0.02) and a trend to negative correlation with PF (r = -0.43; p = 0.06). However, after controlling the false discovery rate, no significant correlation between CTP and used immunohistochemical biomarkers was found.

Conclusion: In conclusion, this feasibility study found a trend to negative correlation between PI and hypoxia, CTP might therefore possibly evaluate this prognostic marker in CRLM non-invasively. However, CTP is not an appropriate technique for the assessment of microvessels or cell proliferation in CRLM.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Perfusion Imaging / methods
  • Perfusion Imaging / standards*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / standards*
  • Tumor Hypoxia


  • Biomarkers, Tumor

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.