Radiomic biomarkers informative of cancerous transformation in neurofibromatosis-1 plexiform tumors

J. Uthoff, F. A. De Stefano, K. Panzer, B. W. Darbro, T. S. Sato, R. Khanna, D. E. Quelle, D. K. Meyerholz, J. Weimer, J. C. Sieren

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: This study explores whether objective, quantitative radiomic biomarkers derived from magnetic resonance (MR), positron emission tomography (PET), and computed tomography (CT) may be useful in reliably distinguishing malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST) from benign plexiform neurofibromas (PN). Methods: A registration and segmentation pipeline was established using a cohort of NF1 patients with histopathological diagnosis of PN or MPNST, and medical imaging of the PN including MR and PET-CT. The corrected MR datasets were registered to the corresponding PET-CT via landmark-based registration. PET standard-uptake value (SUV) thresholds were used to guide segmentation of volumes of interest: MPNST-associated PET-hot regions (SUV ≥ 3.5) and PN-associated PET-elevated regions (2.0 < SUV < 3.5). Quantitative imaging features were extracted from the MR, PET, and CT data and compared for statistical differences. Intensity histogram features included (mean, media, maximum, variance, full width at half maximum, entropy, kurtosis, and skewness), while image texture was quantified using Law's texture energy measures, grey-level co-occurrence matrices, and neighborhood grey-tone difference matrices. Results: For each of the 20 NF1 subjects, a total of 320 features were extracted from the image data. Feature reduction and statistical testing identified 9 independent radiomic biomarkers from the MR data (4 intensity and 5 texture) and 4 PET (2 intensity and 2 texture) were different between the PET-hot versus PET-elevated volumes of interest. Conclusions: Our data suggests imaging features can be used to distinguish malignancy in NF1-realted tumors, which could improve MPNST risk assessment and positively impact clinical management of NF1 patients.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)179-185
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Neuroradiology
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - May 2019


    • Magnetic resonance imaging
    • Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumor
    • Plexiform neurofibroma
    • Positron emission tomography
    • Quantitative feature extraction
    • Diagnosis, Differential
    • Reproducibility of Results
    • Humans
    • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted
    • Male
    • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms/diagnostic imaging
    • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography
    • Young Adult
    • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
    • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
    • Biomarkers, Tumor/analysis
    • Female
    • Neurofibromatosis 1/diagnostic imaging
    • Retrospective Studies

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Clinical Neurology
    • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
    • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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