Towards an Image-Informed Mathematical Model of In Vivo Response to Fractionated Radiation Therapy

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 7;13(8):1765. doi: 10.3390/cancers13081765.


Fractionated radiation therapy is central to the treatment of numerous malignancies, including high-grade gliomas where complete surgical resection is often impractical due to its highly invasive nature. Development of approaches to forecast response to fractionated radiation therapy may provide the ability to optimize or adapt treatment plans for radiotherapy. Towards this end, we have developed a family of 18 biologically-based mathematical models describing the response of both tumor and vasculature to fractionated radiation therapy. Importantly, these models can be personalized for individual tumors via quantitative imaging measurements. To evaluate this family of models, rats (n = 7) with U-87 glioblastomas were imaged with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) before, during, and after treatment with fractionated radiotherapy (with doses of either 2 Gy/day or 4 Gy/day for up to 10 days). Estimates of tumor and blood volume fractions, provided by diffusion-weighted MRI and dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI, respectively, were used to calibrate tumor-specific model parameters. The Akaike Information Criterion was employed to select the most parsimonious model and determine an ensemble averaged model, and the resulting forecasts were evaluated at the global and local level. At the global level, the selected model's forecast resulted in less than 16.2% error in tumor volume estimates. At the local (voxel) level, the median Pearson correlation coefficient across all prediction time points ranged from 0.57 to 0.87 for all animals. While the ensemble average forecast resulted in increased error (ranging from 4.0% to 1063%) in tumor volume predictions over the selected model, it increased the voxel wise correlation (by greater than 12.3%) for three of the animals. This study demonstrates the feasibility of calibrating a model of response by serial quantitative MRI data collected during fractionated radiotherapy to predict response at the conclusion of treatment.

Keywords: U87; computational oncology; glioblastoma; magnetic resonance imaging; perfusion.