TRD 1: Imaging Cancer Heterogeneity

N Agar C Tempany Alexandra Golby S Maier
Nathalie Y. R. Agar PhD Clare M. Tempany MD Alexandra Golby MD Stephan E. Maier MD, PhD
Junichi Tokuda Fiona Sandro Santagata
Junichi Tokuda PhD Fiona M. Fennessy MD, PhD Sandro Santagata MD, PhD Filip Szczepankiewicz PhD

Led by Nathalie Agar, the focus areas for the Imaging Cancer Heterogeneity TRD are:

  • Integrating mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) of tissue metabolism, MRI, and histopathology for the assessment of brain tumor heterogeneity.

  • New diffusion imaging sequences to characterize cell architecture traits in prostate cancer.

  • New MRI pulse sequence for blood oxygenation mapping that accelerates acquisition speed more than ten-fold, without sacrificing volume coverage.


Select Publications

Panditharatna E, Marques JG, Wang T, Trissal MC, Liu I, Jiang L, Beck A, Groves A, Dharia NV, Li D, et al. BAF Complex Maintains Glioma Stem Cells in Pediatric H3K27M Glioma. Cancer Discov. 2022;12 (12) :2880-2905.Abstract
UNLABELLED: Diffuse midline gliomas are uniformly fatal pediatric central nervous system cancers that are refractory to standard-of-care therapeutic modalities. The primary genetic drivers are a set of recurrent amino acid substitutions in genes encoding histone H3 (H3K27M), which are currently undruggable. These H3K27M oncohistones perturb normal chromatin architecture, resulting in an aberrant epigenetic landscape. To interrogate for epigenetic dependencies, we performed a CRISPR screen and show that patient-derived H3K27M-glioma neurospheres are dependent on core components of the mammalian BAF (SWI/SNF) chromatin remodeling complex. The BAF complex maintains glioma stem cells in a cycling, oligodendrocyte precursor cell-like state, in which genetic perturbation of the BAF catalytic subunit SMARCA4 (BRG1), as well as pharmacologic suppression, opposes proliferation, promotes progression of differentiation along the astrocytic lineage, and improves overall survival of patient-derived xenograft models. In summary, we demonstrate that therapeutic inhibition of the BAF complex has translational potential for children with H3K27M gliomas. SIGNIFICANCE: Epigenetic dysregulation is at the core of H3K27M-glioma tumorigenesis. Here, we identify the BRG1-BAF complex as a critical regulator of enhancer and transcription factor landscapes, which maintain H3K27M glioma in their progenitor state, precluding glial differentiation, and establish pharmacologic targeting of the BAF complex as a novel treatment strategy for pediatric H3K27M glioma. See related commentary by Beytagh and Weiss, p. 2730. See related article by Mo et al., p. 2906.
Wang L, Wang D, Sonzogni O, Ke S, Wang Q, Thavamani A, Batalini F, Stopka SA, Regan MS, Vandal S, et al. PARP-Inhibition Reprograms Macrophages Toward an Anti-Tumor Phenotype. Cell Rep. 2022;41 (2) :111462.Abstract
Poly(ADP)ribosylation inhibitors (PARPis) are toxic to cancer cells with homologous recombination (HR) deficiency but not to HR-proficient cells in the tumor microenvironment (TME), including tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). As TAMs can promote or inhibit tumor growth, we set out to examine the effects of PARP inhibition on TAMs in BRCA1-related breast cancer (BC). The PARPi olaparib causes reprogramming of TAMs toward higher cytotoxicity and phagocytosis. A PARPi-related surge in NAD+ increases glycolysis, blunts oxidative phosphorylation, and induces reverse mitochondrial electron transport (RET) with an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) and transcriptional reprogramming. This reprogramming occurs in the absence or presence of PARP1 or PARP2 and is partially recapitulated by addition of NAD derivative methyl-nicotinamide (MNA). In vivo and ex vivo, the effect of olaparib on TAMs contributes to the anti-tumor efficacy of the PARPi. In vivo blockade of the "don't-eat-me signal" with CD47 antibodies in combination with olaparib improves outcomes in a BRCA1-related BC model.
Spinazzi EF, Argenziano MG, Upadhyayula PS, Banu MA, Neira JA, Higgins DMO, Wu PB, Pereira B, Mahajan A, Humala N, et al. Chronic Convection-Enhanced Delivery of Topotecan for Patients With Recurrent Glioblastoma: A First-in-Patient, Single-Centre, Single-Arm, Phase 1b Trial. Lancet Oncol. 2022;23 (11) :1409-18.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Topotecan is cytotoxic to glioma cells but is clinically ineffective because of drug delivery limitations. Systemic delivery is limited by toxicity and insufficient brain penetrance, and, to date, convection-enhanced delivery (CED) has been restricted to a single treatment of restricted duration. To address this problem, we engineered a subcutaneously implanted catheter-pump system capable of repeated, chronic (prolonged, pulsatile) CED of topotecan into the brain and tested its safety and biological effects in patients with recurrent glioblastoma. METHODS: We did a single-centre, open-label, single-arm, phase 1b clinical trial at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (New York, NY, USA). Eligible patients were at least 18 years of age with solitary, histologically confirmed recurrent glioblastoma showing radiographic progression after surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, and a Karnofsky Performance Status of at least 70. Five patients had catheters stereotactically implanted into the glioma-infiltrated peritumoural brain and connected to subcutaneously implanted pumps that infused 146 μM topotecan 200 μL/h for 48 h, followed by a 5-7-day washout period before the next infusion, with four total infusions. After the fourth infusion, the pump was removed and the tumour was resected. The primary endpoint of the study was safety of the treatment regimen as defined by presence of serious adverse events. Analyses were done in all treated patients. The trial is closed, and is registered with, NCT03154996. FINDINGS: Between Jan 22, 2018, and July 8, 2019, chronic CED of topotecan was successfully completed safely in all five patients, and was well tolerated without substantial complications. The only grade 3 adverse event related to treatment was intraoperative supplemental motor area syndrome (one [20%] of five patients in the treatment group), and there were no grade 4 adverse events. Other serious adverse events were related to surgical resection and not the study treatment. Median follow-up was 12 months (IQR 10-17) from pump explant. Post-treatment tissue analysis showed that topotecan significantly reduced proliferating tumour cells in all five patients. INTERPRETATION: In this small patient cohort, we showed that chronic CED of topotecan is a potentially safe and active therapy for recurrent glioblastoma. Our analysis provided a unique tissue-based assessment of treatment response without the need for large patient numbers. This novel delivery of topotecan overcomes limitations in delivery and treatment response assessment for patients with glioblastoma and could be applicable for other anti-glioma drugs or other CNS diseases. Further studies are warranted to determine the effect of this drug delivery approach on clinical outcomes. FUNDING: US National Institutes of Health, The William Rhodes and Louise Tilzer Rhodes Center for Glioblastoma, the Michael Weiner Glioblastoma Research Into Treatment Fund, the Gary and Yael Fegel Foundation, and The Khatib Foundation.
Notarangelo G, Spinelli JB, Perez EM, Baker GJ, Kurmi K, Elia I, Stopka SA, Baquer G, Lin J-R, Golby AJ, et al. Oncometabolite D-2HG Alters T Cell Metabolism to Impair CD8 T Cell Function. Science. 2022;377 (6614) :1519-1529.Abstract
Gain-of-function mutations in isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) in human cancers result in the production of d-2-hydroxyglutarate (d-2HG), an oncometabolite that promotes tumorigenesis through epigenetic alterations. The cancer cell-intrinsic effects of d-2HG are well understood, but its tumor cell-nonautonomous roles remain poorly explored. We compared the oncometabolite d-2HG with its enantiomer, l-2HG, and found that tumor-derived d-2HG was taken up by CD8+ T cells and altered their metabolism and antitumor functions in an acute and reversible fashion. We identified the glycolytic enzyme lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) as a molecular target of d-2HG. d-2HG and inhibition of LDH drive a metabolic program and immune CD8+ T cell signature marked by decreased cytotoxicity and impaired interferon-γ signaling that was recapitulated in clinical samples from human patients with IDH1 mutant gliomas.
Shi DD, Savani MR, Levitt MM, Wang AC, Endress JE, Bird CE, Buehler J, Stopka SA, Regan MS, Lin Y-F, et al. De Novo Pyrimidine Synthesis Is a Targetable Vulnerability in IDH Mutant Glioma. Cancer Cell. 2022;40 (9) :939-956.e16.Abstract
Mutations affecting isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH) enzymes are prevalent in glioma, leukemia, and other cancers. Although mutant IDH inhibitors are effective against leukemia, they seem to be less active in aggressive glioma, underscoring the need for alternative treatment strategies. Through a chemical synthetic lethality screen, we discovered that IDH1-mutant glioma cells are hypersensitive to drugs targeting enzymes in the de novo pyrimidine nucleotide synthesis pathway, including dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH). We developed a genetically engineered mouse model of mutant IDH1-driven astrocytoma and used it and multiple patient-derived models to show that the brain-penetrant DHODH inhibitor BAY 2402234 displays monotherapy efficacy against IDH-mutant gliomas. Mechanistically, this reflects an obligate dependence of glioma cells on the de novo pyrimidine synthesis pathway and mutant IDH's ability to sensitize to DNA damage upon nucleotide pool imbalance. Our work outlines a tumor-selective, biomarker-guided therapeutic strategy that is poised for clinical translation.
Kim S, Merugumala S, Lin AP. A Uniformity Correction Method to Reduce Scan Time for 7T Sodium Imaging of Brain Tumors. J Neuroimaging. 2022;32 (6) :1062-9.Abstract
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Sodium imaging shows great potential for the characterization of brain tumors. Intensity correction is required but the additional scan time is costly. Recent developments can halve the time but were optimized in normal brains and may not be applicable in brain tumor imaging. We aim to develop an individualized uniformity correction for sodium imaging optimized for brain tumor patients that reduces scan time but provides high-resolution images for clinical practice. METHODS: Two-, 4-, and 6-mm iso-cubic voxel resolution birdcage coil images were used to calculate the 2-mm iso-cubic voxel individual sensitivity maps in healthy subjects (n = 3). Cut profiles were compared to determine the optimal approach. In addition, a 3-dimensional phantom was developed to test a generalized uniformity correction approach in both healthy subjects (n = 3) and tumor patients (n = 3). RESULTS: The cut profiles showed that the average correlation coefficient between 2- and 4-mm birdcage image correction results was r = .9937, and r = .9876 for 2- and 6-mm birdcage images. The correlation result between individual map correction and phantom map correction was r = .9817. CONCLUSION: The 4 mm birdcage coil image provided the optimal approach for both as a compromise between the time-savings effect and image quality. This method allows for a 2-mm iso-cubic voxel resolution clinical sodium scan within 12 minutes. We also presented prescanned phantom sensitivity map results, which were designed to cover all patient head sizes. This approach provides an alternative solution in more time-sensitive cases.
Coy S, Wang S, Stopka SA, Lin J-R, Yapp C, Ritch CC, Salhi L, Baker GJ, Rashid R, Baquer G, et al. Single Cell Spatial Analysis Reveals the Topology of Immunomodulatory Purinergic Signaling in Glioblastoma. Nat Commun. 2022;13 (1) :4814.Abstract
How the glioma immune microenvironment fosters tumorigenesis remains incompletely defined. Here, we use single-cell RNA-sequencing and multiplexed tissue-imaging to characterize the composition, spatial organization, and clinical significance of extracellular purinergic signaling in glioma. We show that microglia are the predominant source of CD39, while tumor cells principally express CD73. In glioblastoma, CD73 is associated with EGFR amplification, astrocyte-like differentiation, and increased adenosine, and is linked to hypoxia. Glioblastomas enriched for CD73 exhibit inflammatory microenvironments, suggesting that purinergic signaling regulates immune adaptation. Spatially-resolved single-cell analyses demonstrate a strong spatial correlation between tumor-CD73 and microglial-CD39, with proximity associated with poor outcomes. Similar spatial organization is present in pediatric high-grade gliomas including H3K27M-mutant diffuse midline glioma. These data reveal that purinergic signaling in gliomas is shaped by genotype, lineage, and functional state, and that core enzymes expressed by tumor and myeloid cells are organized to promote adenosine-rich microenvironments potentially amenable to therapeutic targeting.
Yu Y, Safdar S, Bourantas G, Zwick B, Joldes G, Kapur T, Frisken S, Kikinis R, Nabavi A, Golby A, et al. Automatic Framework for Patient-Specific Modelling of Tumour Resection-Induced Brain Shift. Comput Biol Med. 2022;143 :105271.Abstract
Our motivation is to enable non-biomechanical engineering specialists to use sophisticated biomechanical models in the clinic to predict tumour resection-induced brain shift, and subsequently know the location of the residual tumour and its boundary. To achieve this goal, we developed a framework for automatically generating and solving patient-specific biomechanical models of the brain. This framework automatically determines patient-specific brain geometry from MRI data, generates patient-specific computational grid, assigns material properties, defines boundary conditions, applies external loads to the anatomical structures, and solves differential equations of nonlinear elasticity using Meshless Total Lagrangian Explicit Dynamics (MTLED) algorithm. We demonstrated the effectiveness and appropriateness of our framework on real clinical cases of tumour resection-induced brain shift.
Giganti F, Cole AP, Fennessy FM, Clinton T, Moreira PLDF, Bernardes MC, Westin C-F, Krishnaswamy D, Fedorov A, Wollin DA, et al. Promoting the Use of the PI-QUAL Score for Prostate MRI Quality: Results From the ESOR Nicholas Gourtsoyiannis Teaching Fellowship. Eur Radiol. 2022 :1-11.Abstract
OBJECTIVES: The Prostate Imaging Quality (PI-QUAL) score is a new metric to evaluate the diagnostic quality of multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the prostate. This study assesses the impact of an intervention, namely a prostate MRI quality training lecture, on the participant's ability to apply PI-QUAL. METHODS: Sixteen participants (radiologists, urologists, physicists, and computer scientists) of varying experience in reviewing diagnostic prostate MRI all assessed the image quality of ten examinations from different vendors and machines. Then, they attended a dedicated lecture followed by a hands-on workshop on MRI quality assessment using the PI-QUAL score. Five scans assessed by the participants were evaluated in the workshop using the PI-QUAL score for teaching purposes. After the course, the same participants evaluated the image quality of a new set of ten scans applying the PI-QUAL score. Results were assessed using receiver operating characteristic analysis. The reference standard was the PI-QUAL score assessed by one of the developers of PI-QUAL. RESULTS: There was a significant improvement in average area under the curve for the evaluation of image quality from baseline (0.59 [95 % confidence intervals: 0.50-0.66]) to post-teaching (0.96 [0.92-0.98]), an improvement of 0.37 [0.21-0.41] (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: A teaching course (dedicated lecture + hands-on workshop) on PI-QUAL significantly improved the application of this scoring system to assess the quality of prostate MRI examinations. KEY POINTS: • A significant improvement in the application of PI-QUAL for the assessment of prostate MR image quality was observed after an educational intervention. • Appropriate training on image quality can be delivered to those involved in the acquisition and interpretation of prostate MRI. • Further investigation will be needed to understand the impact on improving the acquisition of high-quality diagnostic prostate MR examinations.
Zhang F, Wells WM, O'Donnell LJ. Deep Diffusion MRI Registration (DDMReg): A Deep Learning Method for Diffusion MRI Registration. IEEE Trans Med Imaging. 2022;41 (6) :1454-67.Abstract
In this paper, we present a deep learning method, DDMReg, for accurate registration between diffusion MRI (dMRI) datasets. In dMRI registration, the goal is to spatially align brain anatomical structures while ensuring that local fiber orientations remain consistent with the underlying white matter fiber tract anatomy. DDMReg is a novel method that uses joint whole-brain and tract-specific information for dMRI registration. Based on the successful VoxelMorph framework for image registration, we propose a novel registration architecture that leverages not only whole brain information but also tract-specific fiber orientation information. DDMReg is an unsupervised method for deformable registration between pairs of dMRI datasets: it does not require nonlinearly pre-registered training data or the corresponding deformation fields as ground truth. We perform comparisons with four state-of-the-art registration methods on multiple independently acquired datasets from different populations (including teenagers, young and elderly adults) and different imaging protocols and scanners. We evaluate the registration performance by assessing the ability to align anatomically corresponding brain structures and ensure fiber spatial agreement between different subjects after registration. Experimental results show that DDMReg obtains significantly improved registration performance compared to the state-of-the-art methods. Importantly, we demonstrate successful generalization of DDMReg to dMRI data from different populations with varying ages and acquired using different acquisition protocols and different scanners.