DCE-MRI quantitative transport mapping for noninvasively detecting hypoxia inducible factor-1α, epidermal growth factor receptor overexpression, and Ki-67 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients

Radiother Oncol. 2021 Nov;164:146-154. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2021.09.016. Epub 2021 Sep 27.


Background: Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) has the potential to noninvasively detect expression of hypoxia inducible factor-1-alpha (HIF-1α), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), and Ki-67 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) by quantitatively measuring tumor blood flow, vascularity, and permeability.

Purpose: We aim to explore the utility of DCE-MRI in detecting HIF-1α, EGFR, and Ki-67 expression levels using traditional Kety's/Tofts' modeling and quantitative transport mapping (QTM).

Materials and methods: Eighty-nine NPC patients underwent DCE-MRI before treatment were enrolled. DCE-MRI was processed to generate the following kinetic parameters: |u| and D from the QTM model, tumor blood flow (TBF) from Kety's model, and Ktrans, Ve, and Kep from Tofts' model. Pretreatment levels of HIF-1α, EGFR, and Ki-67 were assessed by immunohistochemistry and classified into low and high expression groups.

Results: |u| (p < 0.001) and TBF (p = 0.015) values were significantly higher in the HIF-1α high-expression group compared to low-expression group. Only Ktrans (p = 0.016) was significantly higher in the EGFR high-expression group. Only |u| (p < 0.001) values were significantly higher in the Ki-67 high-expression group compared to low-expression group. Multiple linear regression analyses showed that |u| independently correlated with HIF-1α and Ki-67 expression, and Ktrans independently correlated with EGFR. The areas under the ROC curves of |u| for HIF-1α and Ki-67, and Ktrans for EGFR were 0.83, 0.74, and 0.70, respectively.

Conclusion: |u| and Ktrans derived from DCE-MRI may be considered as noninvasive imaging markers for detecting hypoxia and proliferation in NPC patients.

Keywords: Dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Hypoxia inducible factor-1-alpha; Ki-67; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma; Quantitative transport mapping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Contrast Media*
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging


  • Contrast Media
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • ErbB Receptors