Hypoxia is an essential metabolic marker that determines chemo- and radiation resistance in head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) patients. Our exploratory analysis aimed to identify multiparametric MRI (mpMRI) parameters linked to hypoxia that might be used as surrogate for [18F]FMISO-PET in diagnosis and chemoradiation treatment (CRT) of HNSCC.
21 patients undergoing definitive CRT for HNSCC were prospectively imaged with serial [18F]FMISO-PET and 3 Tesla mpMRI for T1- and T2-weighted and dynamic contrast-enhanced perfusion and diffusion-weighted measurements (k, v, k, ADC) in weeks 0, 2 and 5 and FDG-PET in week 0. [18F]FMISO-PET-derived hypoxic subvolumes (HSV) and complementary non-hypoxic subvolumes (nonHSV) were created for tumor and lymph nodes and projected on the mpMRI images after PET/MRI image co-registration. mpMRI and [18F]FMISO-PET parameters within HSVs and nonHSVs were statistically compared.
FMISO-PET-based HSVs of the primary tumors on MRI were characterized by lower ADC at all time points (p=0.012 at baseline; p=0.015 in week 2) and reduced interstitial space volume fraction v and perfusion k at baseline (p=0.006, p=0.047) compared to nonHSVs. Hypoxic lymph nodes were characterized by significantly lower ADC values at baseline (p=0.039), but not at later time points and a reduction in k-based perfusion at week 2 (p=0.018).
MpMRI parameters differ significantly between hypoxic and non-hypoxic tumor regions, defined on FMISO-PET/CT as gold standard and might represent surrogate markers for hypoxia. These findings suggest that mpMRI may be useful in the future as a surrogate modality for hypoxia imaging in order to personalize CRT.

Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.