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Apparent diffusion coefficient and pituitary macroadenomas: pre-operative assessment of tumor atypia.


Rationale and objectives

Pituitary macroadenomas are predominantly benign intracranial neoplasms that can be locally aggressive with invasion of adjacent structures. Biomarkers of aggressive behavior have been identified in the pathology literature, including the proliferative marker MIB-1. In the radiology literature, diffusion weighted imaging and low ADC values provide similar markers of aggressive behavior in brain tumors. The purpose of this study was to determine if there is a correlation between ADC and MIB-1 in pituitary macroadenomas.

Materials and methods

A retrospective review of diffusion imaging and immunohistochemical characteristics of pituitary macroadenomas was performed. The ADC ratio and specimen Ki-67 (MIB-1) indices were measured. Linear regression analysis of normalized ADC values and MIB-1 indices was used to compare these parameters.


There were 17 patients with available ADC maps and MIB-1 indices. Local invasion was confirmed by imaging and intraoperative visualization in 11 patients. The mean ADC ratio for the invasive group was 0.68, with a mean MIB-1 index of 2.21 %. In the noninvasive group, the mean ADC ratio was 1.05, with a mean MIB-1 index of 0.9 %. Linear regression analysis of normalized ADC values versus MIB-1 demonstrates a negative correlation, with a linear slope significantly different from zero (p = 0.003, correlation coefficient of 0.77, and r squared = 0.59).


We determine a strong correlation of low ADC values and MIB-1, demonstrating the potential of diffusion imaging as a possible biomarker for atypical, proliferative adenomas, which may ultimately affect the surgical approach and postoperative management.

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