Immune cell identity behind the Ktrans mapping of mouse glioblastoma

Yanrong Zhang, Olivier Keunen, Anna Golebiewska, Marco Gerosa, Jing Wang, Sara Natasha Ghobadi, Ai Huang, Qingyi Hou, Frezghi G. Habte, Ningrui Li, Gerry Grant, Ramasamy Paulmurugan, Kevin S. Lee, Max Wintermark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging (DCE-MRI) can assess the integrity of the blood brain barrier (BBB) and has been used in GBM patients to determine glioma grade, predict prognosis, evaluate treatment response, and differentiate treatment-induced effect from recurrence. The volume transfer constant Ktrans is the most frequently used metric in tumor assessment. Based on previous studies that a higher WHO grade of brain tumor was associated with greater impairments of immunity and that Ktrans value was associated with the pathological grading, the relationship between differential composition of immune cells in GBM tissue and dynamic changes in Ktrans mapping was anticipated in this study. The present study utilized an orthotopic allograft model of GBM in which mouse GL26 cells are implanted into Ccr2RFP/wtCx3cr1GFP/wt mice on a C57 background. The brain tumors exhibited heterogenous Ktrans values with the coefficients of variation (CV) above 75%, or relatively homogeneous Ktrans maps with CV values below 50%. The Ktrans values of homogeneous tumors ranged between 0.02/min–0.32/min with a median value of 0.10/min. The immune cell composition defined by quantitative immunohistochemistry and cell sorting was compared between the tumors with Ktrans values above 0.10/min (higher Ktrans) or below 0.10/min (lower Ktrans). Histological analysis showed that tumors with higher Ktrans values exhibited greater numbers of CCR2pos cells (257.60 ± 16.42/mm2 vs 203.23 ± 12.20/mm2, p = 0.04) and an increased ratio of CCR2pos cells to CX3CR1pos cells (1.20 ± 0.02 vs 0.38 ± 0.04, p = 0.001), the numbers of CX3CR1pos cells did not differ significantly based on Ktrans values (219.70 ± 16.20/mm2 vs 250.38 ± 21.20/mm2, p = 0.19). Flowcytometry analysis showed that tumors with higher Ktrans values (above 0.1/min) were associated with greater numbers of both overall monocytes (54.93 ± 6.81% vs 29.75 ± 3.54%, p = 0.01) and inflammatory monocytes (72.38 ± 1.49% vs 59.52 ± 2.44%, p = 0.001). In contrast, tumors with lower Ktrans values (below 0.1/min) exhibited greater numbers of patrolling monocytes (75.65 ± 4.14% vs 63 ± 6.94%, p = 0.05). In the tumors with lower Ktrans values, all three types of tumor associated cells, including patrolling monocytes, inflammatory monocytes, and microglia cells possessed a higher proportion of cells at pro-inflammatory status (41.77 ± 6.13% vs 25.06 ± 6.72%, p = 0.05; 27.50 ± 2.11% vs 20.62 ± 1.87%, p = 0.03; and 55.80 ± 9.88% vs 31.12 ± 7.31%, p = 0.05), inflammatory monocytes showed fewer anti-inflammatory cells (1.25 ± 0.62% vs 3.16 ± 3.56%, p = 0.04). Taken together, differences in Ktrans values were associated with differential immune cell phenotypes and polarizations. Ktrans mapping may therefore represent a novel approach for defining the immune status of GBM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Glioblastoma
  • Immune cell identity
  • K
  • TAMs


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