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Br J Cancer. 2017 Nov 7;117(10):1529-1536. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2017.324. Epub 2017 Sep 14.

Vascular disrupting agent in pancreatic and hepatic tumour allografts: observations of location-dependent efficacy by MRI, microangiography and histomorphology.

Author information

Theragnostic Laboratory, Department of Imaging and Pathology, Biomedical Sciences Group, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Radiology, University Hospitals, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Division of Biomedical MRI, Department of Imaging and Pathology, Biomedical Sciences Group, KU Leuven, Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.



Tumours growing in organs of different vascular environment could exhibit diverse responses to vascular disrupting agent (VDA). This study was aimed to identify in vivo imaging biomarkers for evaluation of pancreatic and hepatic tumours and comparison of their responses to a VDA Combretastatin A4 Phosphate (CA4P) using multiparametric MRI.


Male WAG/Rij rats were used for orthotopic pancreatic head tumour and hepatic tumour implantation; tumour growth was monitored by 3D isotropic MRI using a 3.0-T clinic scanner. Therapeutic intervention using CA4P was investigated by in vivo quantitative MRI measurements including T2/T1 relaxation mapping, diffusion kurtosis imaging and dynamic contrast-enhancement (DCE) imaging. Animals were scarified 10 h after CA4P treatment for ex vivo validation using microangiography and histomorphology.


State-of-the-art clinical MRI protocols were successfully adapted for imaging small animal tumour with high reliability. One hour after CA4P injection, marked vascular shutdown was detected with DCE MRI in both pancreatic and hepatic tumours. However, 10 h later, therapeutic necrosis was limited in pancreatic tumours compared with that in hepatic tumours (P<0.01). Heterogeneous therapeutic changes were depicted in tumour lesions using pixel-wise Tofts model, which was generated from dynamic T1 mapping. In addition, tumour responses including haemorrhage, oedema and necrosis were detected using quantitative T2/T1 relaxation maps and diffusion kurtosis images, and were validated using histomorphology.


Using multiparametric imaging biomarkers, hepatic tumours were found to be significantly more responsive to CA4P than pancreatic tumours, which could be of reference for designing future clinical trials on this agent.

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