The accurate diagnosis of World Health Organization Grades II and III gliomas is crucial for the effective treatment of patients with such lesions. Increased cell density and mitotic activity are histological features that distinguish Grade III from Grade II gliomas. Because increased cellular proliferation and density both contribute to the in vivo magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopic peak corresponding to choline-containing compounds (Cho), the authors hypothesized that multivoxel MR spectroscopy might help identify the tumor regions with the most aggressive growth characteristics, which would be optimal locations for biopsy. They investigated the ability to use one or more MR spectroscopic parameters to predict the MIB-1 cell proliferation index (PI), the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase–mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling cell death index (DI), the cell density, and the ratio of proliferation to cell death (PI/DI) within different regions of the same tumor.
Patients with presumed Grades II or III glioma underwent 3D MR spectroscopic imaging prior to surgery, and two or three regions within the tumor were targeted for biopsy retrieval based on their spectroscopic features. Biopsy specimens were extracted from the tumor during image-guided resection, and the PI, DI, and cell density were assessed in the specimens using immunohistochemical methods.
The authors found that the relative levels of Cho and N-acetylaspartate (NAA) correlated with the cell density, PI, and PI/DI ratio within different regions of the same tumor and that the association held for the subpopulation of nonenhancing tumors. The association was stronger in tumors with large ranges of Cho/NAA values, irrespective of the presence of contrast enhancement. The findings demonstrate the validity of using MR spectroscopy to identify regions of aggressive growth in presumed Grade II or III gliomas that would be suitable targets for retrieving diagnostic biopsy specimens.