Evaluation of response in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma treated with intratumoral dendritic cell vaccination using intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) MRI and histogram analysis

PMID: 34904868
Journal: Acta radiologica (Stockholm, Sweden : 1987) (volume: 64, issue: 1, Acta Radiol 2023 Jan;64(1):32-41)
Published: 2021-12-14

Andersson M, Jalnefjord O, Montelius M, Rizell M, Sternby Eilard M, Ljungberg M


BACKGROUND: Immunotherapy of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an emerging method with promising results. Immunotherapy can have an antitumor effect without affecting tumor size, calling for functional imaging methods for response evaluation.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the response to intratumoral injections with the immune primer ilixadencel in HCCs with diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DW-MRI) using intravoxel incoherent motion (IVIM) and histogram analysis.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A total of 17 patients with advanced HCC were treated with intratumoral injections with ilixadencel on three occasions 2-5 weeks apart. The patients were examined with IVIM before each injection as well as approximately three months after the first injection.

RESULTS: The 10th percentile of perfusion-related parameter D* decreased significantly after the first and second intratumoral injections of ilixadencel compared to baseline ( < 0.05). There was a non-significant trend of lower median region of interest (perfusion fraction) before injection 2 compared to baseline ( = 0.07). There were significant correlations between the 10th percentile and median of D at baseline and change in tumor size after three months ( = 0.79, < 0.01 and  = 0.72, < 0.05, respectively).

CONCLUSION: DW-MRI with IVIM and histogram analysis revealed significant reductions of D* early after treatment as well as an association between D at baseline and smaller tumor growth at three months. The lower percentiles (10th and 50th) were found more important. Further research is needed to confirm our preliminary findings of reduced perfusion after ilixadencel vaccinations, suggesting a treatment effect on HCC.