MRI-Tracked Tumor Vascular Changes in the Hours after Single-Fraction Irradiation
The purpose of this study was to characterize changes in tumor vascular parameters hours after a single radiation exposure in an orthotopic brain tumor model. U-251 human brain tumors were established intracerebrally in rat brains, and tumor blood flow, forward volume transfer constant (K(trans)) and interstitial volume fraction (v(e)) were measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Tumors were exposure to a single stereotactic radiation treatment of 20 Gy. Vascular parameters were assessed one additional time between 2 and 24 h after irradiation. After the second MRI session, brain tissue histology was examined for gross changes and apoptosis. In separate studies, cerebral blood flow was measured in nonimplanted controls before radiation exposure and 2 and 24 h after 20 Gy irradiation, and in implanted rats before radiation exposure and at 2 and 24 h after 6 Gy irradiation. Significant changes were observed in tumor-bearing rat brains in the hours after 20 Gy irradiation. Two hours after 20 Gy irradiation, tumor blood flow decreased nearly 80% and ve decreased by 30%. At 4 h, the K(trans) increased by 30% over preirradiation values. Extensive vacuolization and an increase in apoptosis were evident histologically in rats imaged 2 h after irradiation. Between 8 and 12 h after irradiation, all vascular parameters including blood flow returned to near preirradiation values. One day after irradiation, tumor blood flow was elevated 40% over preirradiation values, and other vascular parameters, including K(trans) and ve, were 20-40% below preirradiation values. In contrast, changes in vascular parameters observed in the normal brain 2 or 24 h after 20 Gy irradiation were not significantly different from preirradiation values. Also, tumor blood flow appeared to be unchanged at 2 h after 6 Gy irradiation, with a small increase observed at 24 h, unlike the tumor blood flow changes after 20 Gy irradiation. Large and significant changes in vascular parameters were observed hours after 20 Gy irradiation using noninvasive MRI techniques. It is hypothesized that cellular swelling hours after a high dose of radiation, coinciding with vacuolization, led to a decrease in tumor blood flow and v(e). Four hours after radiation exposure, K(trans) increased in concert with an increase in tumor blood flow. Vascular permeability normalized, 24 h after 20 Gy irradiation, as characterized by a decrease in K(trans). Vascular parameters did not change significantly in the normal brain after 20 Gy irradiation or in the tumor-bearing brain after 6 Gy irradiation.