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Decorin expression is associated with predictive diffusion MR phenotypes of anti-VEGF efficacy in glioblastoma


Previous data suggest that apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) imaging phenotypes predict survival response to anti-VEGF monotherapy in glioblastoma. However, the mechanism by which imaging may predict clinical response is unknown. We hypothesize that decorin (DCN), a proteoglycan implicated in the modulation of the extracellular microenvironment and sequestration of pro-angiogenic signaling, may connect ADC phenotypes to survival benefit to anti-VEGF therapy. Patients undergoing resection for glioblastoma as well as patients included in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and IVY Glioblastoma Atlas Project (IVY GAP) databases had pre-operative imaging analyzed to calculate pre-operative ADCL values, the average ADC in the lower distribution using a double Gaussian mixed model. ADCL values were correlated to available RNA expression from these databases as well as from RNA sequencing from patient derived mouse orthotopic xenograft samples. Targeted biopsies were selected based on ADC values and prospectively collected during resection. Surgical specimens were used to evaluate for DCN RNA and protein expression by ADC value. The IVY Glioblastoma Atlas Project Database was used to evaluate DCN localization and relationship with VEGF pathway via in situ hybridization maps and RNA sequencing data. In a cohort of 35 patients with pre-operative ADC imaging and surgical specimens, DCN RNA expression levels were significantly larger in high ADCL tumors (41.6 vs. 1.5; P = 0.0081). In a cohort of 17 patients with prospectively targeted biopsies there was a positive linear correlation between ADCL levels and DCN protein expression between tumors (Pearson R2 = 0.3977; P = 0.0066) and when evaluating different targets within the same tumor (Pearson R2 = 0.3068; P = 0.0139). In situ hybridization data localized DCN expression to areas of microvascular proliferation and immunohistochemical studies localized DCN protein expression to the tunica adventitia of blood vessels within the tumor. DCN expression positively correlated with VEGFR1 & 2 expression and localized to similar areas of tumor. Increased ADCL on diffusion MR imaging is associated with high DCN expression as well as increased survival with anti-VEGF therapy in glioblastoma. DCN may play an important role linking the imaging features on diffusion MR and anti-VEGF treatment efficacy. DCN may serve as a target for further investigation and modulation of anti-angiogenic therapy in GBM.

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