Tumours exhibit abnormal interstitial structures and vasculature function often leading to impaired and heterogeneous drug delivery. The disproportionate spatial accumulation of a drug in the interstitium is determined by several microenvironmental properties (blood vessel distribution and permeability, gradients in the interstitial fluid pressure). Predictions of tumour perfusion are key determinants of drug delivery and responsiveness to therapy. Pharmacokinetic models allow for the quantification of tracer perfusion based on contrast enhancement measured with non-invasive imaging techniques. An advanced cross-voxel exchange model (CVXM) was recently developed to provide a comprehensive description of tracer extravasation as well as advection and diffusion based on cross-voxel tracer kinetics (Sinnoet al2021). Transport parameters were derived from DCE-MRI of twenty TS-415 human cervical carcinoma xenografts by using CVXM. Tracer velocity flows were measured at the tumour periphery (mean 1.78-5.82μm.s-1) pushing the contrast outward towards normal tissue. These elevated velocity measures and extravasation rates explain the heterogeneous distribution of tracer across the tumour and its accumulation at the periphery. Significant values for diffusivity were deduced across the tumours (mean 152-499μm2.s-1). CVXM resulted in generally smaller values for the extravasation parameterKext(mean 0.01-0.04 min-1) and extravascular extracellular volume fractionve(mean 0.05-0.17) compared to the standard Tofts parameters, suggesting that Toft model underestimates the effects of inter-voxel exchange. The ratio of Tofts' extravasation parameters over CVXM's was significantly positively correlated to the cross-voxel diffusivity (P< 0.0001) and velocity (P= 0.0005). Tofts' increasedvemeasurements were explained using Sinnoet al(2021)'s theoretical work. Finally, a scan time of 15 min renders informative estimations of the transport parameters. However, a duration as low as 7.5 min is acceptable to recognize the spatial variation of transport parameters. The results demonstrate the potential of utilizing CVXM for determining metrics characterizing the exchange of tracer between the vasculature and the tumour tissue. Like for many earlier models, additional work is strongly recommended, in terms of validation, to develop more confidence in the results, motivating future laboratory work in this regard.
Keywords: convection; cross-voxel exchange; diffusion; extravasation; quantitative imaging; transport model; tumour tissue.
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