Repeated diffusion MRI reveals earliest time point for stratification of radiotherapy response in brain metastases

F. Mahmood, Helle Hjorth Johannesen, P. Geertsen, Rasmus Hvass Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


An imaging biomarker for early prediction of treatment response potentially provides a non-invasive tool for better prognostics and individualized management of the disease. Radiotherapy (RT) response is generally related to changes in gross tumor volume manifesting months later. In this prospective study we investigated the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), perfusion fraction and pseudo diffusion coefficient derived from diffusion weighted MRI as potential early biomarkers for radiotherapy response of brain metastases. It was a particular aim to assess the optimal time point for acquiring the DW-MRI scan during the course of treatment, since to our knowledge this important question has not been addressed directly in previous studies. Twenty-nine metastases (N = 29) from twenty-one patients, treated with whole-brain fractionated external beam RT were analyzed. Patients were scanned with a 1 T MRI system to acquire DW-, T2 W-, T2W- and T1W scans, before start of RT, at each fraction and at follow up two to three months after RT. The DW-MRI parameters were derived using regions of interest based on high b-value images (b = 800 s mm -2). Both volumetric and RECIST criteria were applied for response evaluation. It was found that in non-responding metastases the mean ADC decreased and in responding metastases it increased. The volume based response proved to be far more consistently predictable by the ADC change found at fraction number 7 and later, compared to the linear response (RECIST). The perfusion fraction and pseudo diffusion coefficient did not show sufficient prognostic value with either response assessment criteria. In conclusion this study shows that the ADC derived using high b-values may be a reliable biomarker for early assessment of radiotherapy response for brain metastases patients. The earliest response stratification can be achieved using two DW-MRI scans, one pre-treatment and one at treatment day 7-9 (equivalent to 21 Gy).

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)2990-3002
Publication statusPublished - 17. Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • brain metastases
  • diffusion MRI
  • prognostic value
  • radiotherapy
  • response prediction
  • stratification


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