ARTICLE ABSTRACTIt is well-recognized that solid tumors are genomically, anatomically, and physiologically heterogeneous. In general, more heterogeneous tumors have poorer outcomes, likely due to the increased probability of harboring therapy-resistant cells and regions. It is hypothesized that the genomic and physiologic heterogeneity are related, because physiologically distinct regions will exert variable selection pressures leading to the outgrowth of clones with variable genomic/proteomic profiles. To investigate this, methods must be in place to interrogate and define, at the microscopic scale, the cytotypes that exist within physiologically distinct subregions (“habitats”) that are present at mesoscopic scales. MRI provides a noninvasive approach to interrogate physiologically distinct local environments, due to the biophysical principles that govern MRI signal generation. Here, we interrogate different physiologic parameters, such as perfusion, cell density, and edema, using multiparametric MRI (mpMRI). Signals from six different acquisition schema were combined voxel-by-voxel into four clusters identified using a Gaussian mixture model. These were compared with histologic and IHC characterizations of sections that were coregistered using MRI-guided 3D printed tumor molds. Specifically, we identified a specific set of MRI parameters to classify viable-normoxic, viable-hypoxic, nonviable-hypoxic, and nonviable-normoxic tissue types within orthotopic 4T1 and MDA-MB-231 breast tumors. This is the first coregistered study to show that mpMRI can be used to define physiologically distinct tumor habitats within breast tumor models.
This study demonstrates that noninvasive imaging metrics can be used to distinguish subregions within heterogeneous tumors with histopathologic correlation.