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Here, we investigate radiomics-based characterization of tumor vascular and microenvironmental properties in an orthotopic rat brain tumor model measured using dynamic-contrast-enhanced (DCE) MRI. Thirty-two immune compromised-RNU rats implanted with human U-251N cancer cells were imaged using DCE-MRI (7Tesla, Dual-Gradient-Echo). The aim was to perform pharmacokinetic analysis using a nested model (NM) selection technique to classify brain regions according to vasculature properties considered as the source of truth. A two-dimensional convolutional-based radiomics analysis was performed on the raw-DCE-MRI of the rat brains to generate dynamic radiomics maps. The raw-DCE-MRI and respective radiomics maps were used to build 28 unsupervised Kohonen self-organizing-maps (K-SOMs). A Silhouette-Coefficient (SC), k-fold Nested-Cross-Validation (k-fold-NCV), and feature engineering analyses were performed on the K-SOMs' feature spaces to quantify the distinction power of radiomics features compared to raw-DCE-MRI for classification of different Nested Models. Results showed that eight radiomics features outperformed respective raw-DCE-MRI in prediction of the three nested models. The average percent difference in SCs between radiomics features and raw-DCE-MRI was: 29.875% ± 12.922%, p < 0.001. This work establishes an important first step toward spatiotemporal characterization of brain regions using radiomics signatures, which is fundamental toward staging of tumors and evaluation of tumor response to different treatments.

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Humans; Rats; Animals; Contrast Media; Brain Neoplasms; Brain; Algorithms; Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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