Distribution of Brain Metastases in Relation to the Hippocampus: Implications for Neurocognitive Functional Preservation

Department of Human Oncology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53792, USA.
International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiologyPhysics (Impact Factor: 4.26). 08/2007; 68(4):971-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2007.02.016
Source: PubMed


With the advent of intensity-modulated radiotherapy, the ability to limit the radiation dose to normal tissue offers an avenue to limit side effects. This study attempted to delineate the distribution of brain metastases with relation to the hippocampus for the purpose of exploring the viability of tomotherapy-guided hippocampal sparing therapy potentially to reduce neurocognitive deficits from radiation.
The pre-radiotherapy T1-weighted, postcontrast axial MR images of 100 patients who received whole brain radiotherapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, or a radiosurgical boost following whole brain radiotherapy between 2002 and 2006 were examined. We contoured brain metastases as well as hippocampi with 5-, 10-, and 15-mm expansion envelopes.
Of the 272 identified metastases, 3.3% (n = 9) were within 5 mm of the hippocampus, and 86.4% of metastases were greater than 15 mm from the hippocampus (n = 235). The most common location for metastatic disease was the frontal lobe (31.6%, n = 86). This was followed by the cerebellum (24.3%, n = 66), parietal lobe (16.9%, n = 46), temporal lobe (12.9%, n = 35), occipital lobe (7.7%, n = 21), deep brain nuclei (4.0%, n = 11), and brainstem (2.6%, n = 7).
Of the 100 patients, 8 had metastases within 5 mm of the hippocampus. Hence, a 5-mm margin around the hippocampus for conformal avoidance whole brain radiotherapy represents an acceptable risk, especially because these patients in the absence of any other intracranial disease could be salvaged using stereotactic radiosurgery. Moreover, we developed a hippocampal sparing tomotherapy plan as proof of principle to verify the feasibility of this therapy in the setting of brain metastases.

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    • "As a matter of fact, our findings support that the conformal sparing of hippocampal areas during the delivery of WBRT might preserve patients' NCF mostly or alleviate the extent of NCF changes at least[26,37]. Indeed, it has been documented that WBRT is associated with late neurotoxicity resulting from brain irradiation and will induce multi-faceted difficulties in patients including memory, attention and motor control[8,38]; therefore, HS-WBRT was developed to preserve cortical NCFS in patients receiving cranial RT[20,26,39]. Although quite a few researches[33,40,41]have conceptually hypothesized that HS- WBRT might mitigate the cognitive decline after brain RT, studies concerning the dynamic changes of NCFs before and after HS-WBRT are still limited and preliminary . "
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    ABSTRACT: Whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) has been the treatment of choice for patients with brain metastases. However, change/decline of neurocognitive functions (NCFs) resulting from impaired hippocampal neurogenesis might occur after WBRT. It is reported that conformal hippocampal sparing would provide the preservation of NCFs. Our study aims to investigate the hippocampal dosimetry and to demonstrate the correlation between hippocampal dosimetry and neurocognitive outcomes in patients receiving hippocampal sparing during WBRT (HS-WBRT). Forty prospectively recruited cancer patients underwent HS-WBRT for therapeutic or prophylactic purposes. Before receiving HS-WBRT, all participants received a battery of baseline neurocognitive assessment, including memory, executive functions and psychomotor speed. The follow-up neurocognitive assessment at 4 months after HS-WBRT was also performed. For the delivery of HS-WBRT, Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) with two full arcs and two non-coplanar partial arcs was employed. For each treatment planning, dose volume histograms were generated for left hippocampus, right hippocampus, and the composite hippocampal structure respectively. Biologically equivalent doses in 2-Gy fractions (EQD 2 ) assuming an alpha/beta ratio of 2 Gy were computed. To perform analyses addressing the correlation between hippocampal dosimetry and the change in scores of NCFs, pre- and post-HS-WBRT neurocognitive assessments were available in 24 patients in this study. Scores of NCFs were quite stable before and after HS-WBRT in terms of hippocampus-dependent memory. Regarding verbal memory, the corresponding EQD 2 values of 0, 10, 50, 80 % irradiating the composite hippocampal structure with <12.60 Gy, <8.81, <7.45 Gy and <5.83 Gy respectively were significantly associated with neurocognitive preservation indicated by the immediate recall of Word List Test of Wechsler Memory Scale-III. According to logistic regression analyses, it was noted that dosimetric parameters specific to left sided hippocampus exerted an influence on immediate recall of verbal memory (adjusted odds ratio, 4.08; p-value, 0.042, predicting patients’ neurocognitive decline after receiving HS-WBRT). Functional preservation by hippocampal sparing during WBRT is indeed achieved in our study. Providing that modern VMAT techniques can reduce the dose irradiating bilateral hippocampi below dosimetric threshold, patients should be recruited in prospective trials of hippocampal sparing during cranial irradiation to accomplish neurocognitive preservation while maintaining intracranial control. Trial registration Current Controlled Trials NCT02504788
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015 · Radiation Oncology
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    • "In vitro, hippocampal astrocytes have been shown to express higher levels of MHC Class II protein, Il-6 and ICAM-1 compared to cortical astrocytes, as well as displaying increased nitric oxide (NO) production (Morga et al., 1998), all of which one would hypothesize to modulate astrocyte response to metastatic growth. Indeed, studies of metastatic distribution in human patients, suggest that the hippocampus is a rare locale for tumor growth, as compared to the cerebellum or frontal lobe (Delattre et al., 1988; Ghia et al., 2007; Bender and Tome, 2011). Potentially, the more robust responses of astrocytes in the hippocampus, both on a cellular and immunological basis, could hamper metastatic growth. "
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    ABSTRACT: Brain metastasis is a significant clinical problem, yet the mechanisms governing tumor cell extravasation across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and CNS colonization are unclear. Astrocytes are increasingly implicated in the pathogenesis of brain metastasis but in vitro work suggests both tumoricidal and tumor-promoting roles for astrocyte-derived molecules. Also, the involvement of astrogliosis in primary brain tumor progression is under much investigation. However, translation of in vitro findings into in vivo and clinical settings has not been realized. Increasingly sophisticated resources, such as transgenic models and imaging technologies aimed at astrocyte-specific markers, will enable better characterization of astrocyte function in CNS tumors. Techniques such as bioluminescence and in vivo fluorescent cell labeling have potential for understanding the real-time responses of astrocytes to tumor burden. Transgenic models targeting signaling pathways involved in the astrocytic response also hold great promise, allowing translation of in vitro mechanistic findings into pre-clinical models. The challenging nature of in vivo CNS work has slowed progress in this area. Nonetheless, there has been a surge of interest in generating pre-clinical models, yielding insights into cell extravasation across the BBB, as well as immune cell recruitment to the parenchyma. While the function of astrocytes in the tumor microenvironment is still unknown, the relationship between astrogliosis and tumor growth is evident. Here, we review the role of astrogliosis in both primary and secondary brain tumors and outline the potential for the use of novel imaging modalities in research and clinical settings. These imaging approaches have the potential to enhance our understanding of the local host response to tumor progression in the brain, as well as providing new, more sensitive diagnostic imaging methods.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013 · Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
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    • "WBRT has been associated with neurocognitive sequelae [9-12]. The organ at risk is thought to be the limbic system especially the hippocampus [13,14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) can deliver intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) like dose distributions in a short time; this allows the expansion of IMRT treatments to palliative situations like brain metastases (BMs). VMAT can deliver whole brain radiotherapy (WBRT) with hippocampal avoidance and a simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) to achieve stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT) for BMs. This study is an audit of our experience in the treatment of brain metastases with VMAT in our institution. Methods and materials Metastases were volumetrically contoured on fused diagnostic gadolinium enhanced T1 weighted MRI/planning CT images. Risk organs included hippocampus, optic nerve, optic chiasm, eye, and brain stem. The hippocampi were contoured manually as one paired organ with assistance from a neuroradiologist. WBRT and SIB were integrated into a single plan. Results Thirty patients with 73 BMs were treated between March 2010 and February 2012 with VMAT. Mean follow up time was 3.5 months. For 26 patients, BMs arose from primary melanoma and for the remaining four patients from non-small cell lung cancer (n= 2), primary breast cancer, and sarcoma. Mean age was 60 years. The male to female ratio was 2:1. Five patients were treated without hippocampal avoidance (HA) intent. The median WBRT dose was 31 Gy with a median SIB dose for BMs of 50 Gy, given over a median of 15 fractions. Mean values for BMs were as follows: GTV = 6.9 cc, PTV = 13.3 cc, conformity index = 8.6, homogeneity index = 1.06. Mean and maximum hippocampus dose was 20.4 Gy, and 32.4 Gy, respectively, in patients treated with HA intent. Mean VMAT treatment time from beam on to beam off for one fraction was 3.43 minutes, which compared to WBRT time of 1.3 minutes. Twenty out of 25 assessable lesions at the time of analysis were controlled. Treatment was well tolerated; grade 4 toxicity was reported in one patient. The median overall survival was 9.40 months Conclusions VMAT for BMs is feasible, safe and associated with a similar survival times and toxicities to conventional SRT+/−WBRT. The advantage of VMAT is that WBRT and SRT can be delivered at the same time on one machine.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · Radiation Oncology
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