Object. In this study the authors assessed the early changes in brain tumor physiology associated with glucocorticoid administration. Glucocorticoids have a dramatic effect on symptoms in patients with brain tumors over a time scale ranging from minutes to a few hours. Previous studies have indicated that glucocorticoids may act either by decreasing cerebral blood volume (CBV) or blood-tumor barrier (BTB) permeability and thereby the degree of vasogenic edema.
Methods. Using magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, the authors examined the acute changes in CBV, cerebral blood flow (CBF), and BTB permeability to gadolinium-diethylenetriamine pentaacetic acid after administration of dexamethasone in six patients with brain tumors. In patients with acute decreases in BTB permeability after dexamethasone administration, changes in the degree of edema were assessed using the apparent diffusion coefficient of water.
Conclusions. Dexamethasone was found to cause a dramatic decrease in BTB permeability and regional CBV but no significant changes in CBF or the degree of edema. The authors found that MR imaging provides a powerful tool for investigating the pathophysiological changes associated with the clinical effects of glucocorticoids.