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Phys Med Biol. 2018 Feb 6;63(3):035044. doi: 10.1088/1361-6560/aaa609.

Radiogenomics of hepatocellular carcinoma: multiregion analysis-based identification of prognostic imaging biomarkers by integrating gene data-a preliminary study.

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Department of Medical Imaging, Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 88 Keling Rd, Suzhou 215163, People's Republic of China.


Our objective was to identify prognostic imaging biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma in contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CECT) with biological interpretations by associating imaging features and gene modules. We retrospectively analyzed 371 patients who had gene expression profiles. For the 38 patients with CECT imaging data, automatic intra-tumor partitioning was performed, resulting in three spatially distinct subregions. We extracted a total of 37 quantitative imaging features describing intensity, geometry, and texture from each subregion. Imaging features were selected after robustness and redundancy analysis. Gene modules acquired from clustering were chosen for their prognostic significance. By constructing an association map between imaging features and gene modules with Spearman rank correlations, the imaging features that significantly correlated with gene modules were obtained. These features were evaluated with Cox's proportional hazard models and Kaplan-Meier estimates to determine their prognostic capabilities for overall survival (OS). Eight imaging features were significantly correlated with prognostic gene modules, and two of them were associated with OS. Among these, the geometry feature volume fraction of the subregion, which was significantly correlated with all prognostic gene modules representing cancer-related interpretation, was predictive of OS (Cox p  =  0.022, hazard ratio  =  0.24). The texture feature cluster prominence in the subregion, which was correlated with the prognostic gene module representing lipid metabolism and complement activation, also had the ability to predict OS (Cox p  =  0.021, hazard ratio  =  0.17). Imaging features depicting the volume fraction and textural heterogeneity in subregions have the potential to be predictors of OS with interpretable biological meaning.

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