Magnetic Resonance Elastography reveals effects of anti-angiogenic glioblastoma treatment on tumor stiffness and captures progression in an orthotopic mouse model

Katharina Schregel*, Michal O. Nowicki, Miklos Palotai, Navid Nazari, Rachel Zane, Ralph Sinkus, Sean E. Lawler, Samuel Patz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Anti-angiogenic treatment of glioblastoma (GBM) complicates radiologic monitoring. We evaluated magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) as an imaging tool for monitoring the efficacy of anti-VEGF treatment of GBM. Methods: Longitudinal studies were performed in an orthotopic GBM xenograft mouse model. Animals treated with B20 anti-VEGF antibody were compared to untreated controls regarding survival (n = 13), classical MRI-contrasts and biomechanics as quantified via MRE (n = 15). Imaging was performed on a 7 T small animal horizontal bore MRI scanner. MRI and MRE parameters were compared to histopathology. Results: Anti-VEGF-treated animals survived longer than untreated controls (p = 0.0011) with progressively increased tumor volume in controls (p = 0.0001). MRE parameters viscoelasticity |G*| and phase angle Y significantly decreased in controls (p = 0.02 for |G*| and p = 0.0071 for Y). This indicates that untreated tumors became softer and more elastic than viscous with progression. Tumor volume in treated animals increased more slowly than in controls, indicating efficacy of the therapy, reaching significance only at the last time point (p = 0.02). Viscoelasticity and phase angle Y tended to decrease throughout therapy, similar as for control animals. However, in treated animals, the decrease in phase angle Y was significantly attenuated and reached statistical significance at the last time point (p = 0.04). Histopathologically, control tumors were larger and more heterogeneous than treated tumors. Vasculature was normalized in treated tumors compared with controls, which showed abnormal vasculature and necrosis. In treated tumors, a higher amount of myelin was observed within the tumor area (p = 0.03), likely due to increased tumor invasion. Stiffness of the contralateral hemisphere was influenced by tumor mass effect and edema. Conclusions: Anti-angiogenic GBM treatment prolonged animal survival, slowed tumor growth and softening, but did not prevent progression. MRE detected treatment effects on tumor stiffness; the decrease of viscoelasticity and phase angle in GBM was attenuated in treated animals, which might be explained by normalized vasculature and greater myelin preservation within treated tumors. Thus, further investigation of MRE is warranted to understand the potential for MRE in monitoring treatment in GBM patients by complementing existing MRI techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
JournalCancer Imaging
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 May 2020


  • Anti-angiogenic treatment
  • Anti-VEGF antibody
  • Glioblastoma
  • Magnetic resonance elastography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Tumor stiffness


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