Non-Invasive Assessment of Hypoxia and Neovascularization with MRI for Identification of Aggressive Breast Cancer

Barbara Bennani-Baiti, Katja Pinker, Max Zimmermann, Thomas H Helbich, Pascal A Baltzer, Paola Clauser, Panagiotis Kapetas, Zsuzsanna Bago-Horvath, Andreas Stadlbauer

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

10 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate the potential of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for a non-invasive synergistic assessment of tumor microenvironment (TME) hypoxia and induced neovascularization for the identification of aggressive breast cancer. Fifty-three female patients with breast cancer underwent multiparametric breast MRI including quantitative blood-oxygen-level-dependent (qBOLD) imaging for hypoxia and vascular architecture mapping for neovascularization. Quantitative MRI biomarker maps of oxygen extraction fraction (OEF), metabolic rate of oxygen (MRO2), mitochondrial oxygen tension (mitoPO2), microvessel radius (VSI), microvessel density (MVD), and microvessel type indicator (MTI) were calculated. Histopathology was the standard of reference. Histopathological markers (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (FLT1), podoplanin, hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1alpha), carbonic anhydrase 9 (CA IX), vascular endothelial growth factor C (VEGF-C)) were used to confirm imaging biomarker findings. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed to differentiate less aggressive luminal from aggressive non-luminal (HER2-positive, triple negative) malignancies and assess the interplay between hypoxia and neoangiogenesis markers. Aggressive non-luminal cancers (n = 40) presented with significantly higher MRO2 (i.e., oxygen consumption), lower mitoPO2 values (i.e., hypoxia), lower MTI, and higher MVD than less aggressive cancers (n = 13). Data suggest that a model derived from OEF, mitoPO2, and MVD can predict tumor proliferation rate. This novel MRI approach, which can be easily implemented in routine breast MRI exams, aids in the non-invasive identification of aggressive breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2024
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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