Hypoxia imaging in brain tumors

F. Zerrin Yetkin, Dianne Mendelsohn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Assessment of the oxygenation status of brain tumors has been studied increasingly with imaging techniques in light of recent advances in oncology. Tumor oxygen tension is a critical factor influencing the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy and malignant progression. Hypoxic tumors are resistant to treatment, and prognostic value of tumor oxygen status is shown in head and neck tumors. Strategies increasing the tumor oxygenation are being investigated to overcome the compromising effect of hypoxia on tumor treatment. Administration of nicotinamide and inhalation of various high oxygen concentrations have been implemented. Existing methods for assessment of tissue oxygen level are either invasive or insufficient. Accurate and noninvasive means to measure tumor oxygenation are needed for treatment planning, identification of patients who might benefit from oxygenation strategies, and assessing the efficacy of interventions aimed to increase the radiosensitivity of tumors. Of the various imaging techniques used to assess tissue oxygenation, MR spectroscopy and MR imaging are widely available, noninvasive, and clinically applicable techniques. Tumor hypoxia is related closely to insufficient blood flow through chaotic and partially nonfunctional tumor vasculature and the distance between the capillaries and the tumor cells. Information on characteristics of tumor vasculature such as blood volume, perfusion, and increased capillary permeability can be provided with MR imaging. MR imaging techniques can provide a measure of capillary permeability based on contrast enhancement and relative cerebral blood volume estimates using dynamic susceptibility MR imaging. Blood oxygen level dependent contrast MR imaging using gradient echo sequence is intrinsically sensitive to changes in blood oxygen level. Animal models using blood oxygen level-dependent contrast imaging reveal the different responses of normal and tumor vasculature under hyperoxia. Normobaric hyperoxia is used in MR studies as a method to produce MR contrast in tissues. Increased T2*signal intensity of brain tissue has been observed using blood oxygen level-dependent contrast MR imaging. Dynamic blood oxygen level-dependent contrast MR imaging during hyperoxia is suggested to image tumor oxygenation. Quantification of cerebral oxygen saturation using blood oxygen level-dependent MR imaging also has been reported. Quantification of cerebral blood oxygen saturation using MR imaging has promising clinical applications; however, technical difficulties have to be resolved. Blood oxygen level dependent MR imaging is an emerging technique to evaluate the cerebral blood oxygen saturation, and it has the potential and versatility to assess oxygenation status of brain tumors. Upon improvement and validation of current MR techniques, better diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment monitoring capabilities can be provided for patients with brain tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-552
Number of pages16
JournalNeuroimaging Clinics of North America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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