Water and Collagen Content Are High in Pancreatic Cancer: Implications for Quantitative Metabolic Imaging

Front Oncol. 2021 Jan 27:10:599204. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.599204. eCollection 2020.


In magnetic resonance metabolic imaging, signal from the water content is frequently used for normalization to derive quantitative or semi-quantitative values of metabolites in vivo or ex vivo tumors and tissues. Ex vivo high-resolution metabolic characterization of tumors with magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) provides valuable information that can be used to drive the development of noninvasive MRS biomarkers and to identify metabolic therapeutic targets. Variability in the water content between tumor and normal tissue can result in over or underestimation of metabolite concentrations when assuming a constant water content. Assuming a constant water content can lead to masking of differences between malignant and normal tissues both in vivo and ex vivo. There is a critical need to develop biomarkers to detect pancreatic cancer and to develop novel treatments. Our purpose here was to determine the differences in water content between pancreatic tumors and normal pancreatic tissue as well as other organs to accurately quantify metabolic differences when using the water signal for normalization. Our data identify the importance of factoring the differences in water content between tumors and organs. High-resolution proton spectra of tumors and pancreatic tissue extracts normalized to the water signal, assuming similar water content, did not reflect the significantly increased total choline observed in tumors in vivo without factoring the differences in water content. We identified significant differences in the collagen 1 content between Panc1 and BxPC3 pancreatic tumors and the pancreas that can contribute to the differences in water content that were observed.

Keywords: MRS; collagen; pancreatic cancer; total choline; water content.