Early detection of tumor cell death in glioblastoma following treatment with chemoradiation has the potential to distinguish between true disease progression and pseudoprogression. Tumor cell death can be detected non-invasively in vivo by imaging the production of [2,3-2H2]malate from [2,3-2H2]fumarate using 2H magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopic imaging. We show here that 2H MR spectroscopy and spectroscopic imaging measurements of [2,3-2H2]fumarate metabolism can detect tumor cell death in orthotopically implanted glioblastoma models within 48 hours following the completion of chemoradiation. Following the injection of [2,3-2H2]fumarate into tumor-bearing mice, production of [2,3-2H2]malate was measured in a human cell line-derived model and in radio-sensitive and radio-resistant patient-derived models of glioblastoma that were treated with temozolomide followed by targeted fractionated irradiation. The increase in the [2,3-2H2]malate/[2,3-2H2]fumarate signal ratio post-treatment, which correlated with histological assessment of cell death, was a more sensitive indicator of treatment response than diffusion-weighted and contrast agent-enhanced 1H MRI measurements, which have been used clinically to detect responses of glioblastoma to chemoradiation. Overall, early detection of glioblastoma cell death using 2H MRI of malate production from fumarate could help improve the clinical evaluation of response to chemoradiation.

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