Introduction: Many studies have shown that tumor vascular network and the assortment of tumorous cells inside and on the periphery of solid tumors are spatially heterogeneous. Variation in cell packing density (VCPD), hypoxia, acidosis, and elevated interstitial fluid pressure (IFP) are main characteristic features of solid tumors. Elevated IFP and VCPD in solid tumors can be generally relevant to the pathological structures at the cellular level that is fundamental to understanding the chance of response to treatment and recurrence. Therefore, non-invasive quantification of tumor heterogeneity for the same types of tumors can play an important role in diagnosis and treatment planning.

Hypothesis: In this pilot study, using Nested Model (NM) selection technique, Model Evolution (ME) concept is framed and introduced to quantify the evolutions of 3 different physiologically NM that are derived from standard Tofts model, throughout the course of Dynamic Contrast Enhanced (DCE) Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) experiment. Using ME technique for pharmacokinetic (PK) modeling and DCE-MRI data analysis, a heterogeneity measure is formulated and introduced based on the evolutionary profile of the estimated extra-cellular extra-vascular (ve) volume. We hypothesized that the ME profiles in the course of DCE-MRI experiment, highly depend on the inward diffusion and outward convection of contrast agent concentration and contain abundant information for describing the compartmentalization and heterogeneity levels of solid tumors.

Material and Methods: 24 athymic Nude rats with U251n rat tumor model of cerebral tumor were studied. Look-Locker T1 mapping and DCE-MRI experiments (Dual Gradient Echo, 150 image sets at 4.0 sec intervals over 10 min: matrix = 128×64, five 2.0 mm slices, NE = 2, NA = 1, TE/TE/TR = 2.0/4.0/40ms with bolus intravenous injection of the Magnevist at 0.25 mmol/kg) acquired at 7T field strengths. In each animal, in-vivo measurement of tumor IFP was done right after the DCE-MRI experiment using a wick-in-needle technique. The ME technique was applied on DCE-MR data of 24 U251n rat tumors to characterize the heterogeneity of each tumor and then the results were compared to their known in vivo measure of IFPs.

Results and Conclusions: Results of this pilot study clearly attest that the evolutionary profile of ve can be used to characterize the heterogeneity level of solid tumors. The ME results imply that as the slop of the evolutionary profile increases, the IFP of tumor increases. Also, the latency of the profile during the course of MR experiment can reliably explain the tumor compartmentalization and their elevated IFP. This pilot study confirms that the ME concept can make a paradigm shift in non-invasive quantification of tumor heterogeneity from DCE-MRI studies

Citation Format: Hassan Bagher-Ebadian, Azimeh NV Dehkordi, Rasha Alamgharibi, David Nathanson, Hamid Soltanian-Zadeh, Arbab S. Ali, Stephen Brown, Meser M. Ali, Tom Mikkelsen, James R. Ewing. Model evolution technique as a novel concept for characterization of tumor heterogeneity in dynamic contrast enhanced MRI studies. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2016 Apr 16-20; New Orleans, LA. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(14 Suppl):Abstract nr 2710.