Prospective study of Lipiodol distribution as an imaging marker for doxorubicin pharmacokinetics during conventional transarterial chemoembolization of liver malignancies

Lynn J. Savic, Julius Chapiro, Eliot Funai, Khaled Bousabarah, Isabel T. Schobert, Edvin Isufi, Jean Francois H. Geschwind, Sophie Stark, Ping He, Michelle A. Rudek, Juan Carlos Perez Lozada, Rajasekhara Ayyagari, Jeffrey Pollak, Todd Schlachter

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Objectives: To evaluate the prognostic potential of Lipiodol distribution for the pharmacokinetic (PK) profiles of doxorubicin (DOX) and doxorubicinol (DOXOL) after conventional transarterial chemoembolization (cTACE). Methods: This prospective clinical trial ( NCT02753881) included 30 consecutive participants with liver malignancies treated with cTACE (5/2016–10/2018) using 50 mg DOX/10 mg mitomycin C emulsified 1:2 with ethiodized oil (Lipiodol). Peripheral blood was sampled at 10 timepoints for standard non-compartmental analysis of peak concentrations (Cmax) and area under the curve (AUC) with dose normalization (DN). Imaging markers included Lipiodol distribution on post-cTACE CT for patient stratification into 1 segment (n = 10), ≥ 2 segments (n = 10), and lobar cTACE (n = 10), and baseline enhancing tumor volume (ETV). Adverse events (AEs) and tumor response on MRI were recorded 3–4 weeks post-cTACE. Statistics included repeated measurement ANOVA (RM-ANOVA), Mann-Whitney, Kruskal-Wallis, Fisher’s exact test, and Pearson correlation. Results: Hepatocellular (n = 26), cholangiocarcinoma (n = 1), and neuroendocrine metastases (n = 3) were included. Stratified according to Lipiodol distribution, DOX-Cmax increased from 1 segment (DOX-Cmax, 83.94 ± 75.09 ng/mL; DN-DOX-Cmax, 2.67 ± 2.02 ng/mL/mg) to ≥ 2 segments (DOX-Cmax, 139.66 ± 117.73 ng/mL; DN-DOX-Cmax, 3.68 ± 4.20 ng/mL/mg) to lobar distribution (DOX-Cmax, 334.35 ± 215.18 ng/mL; DN-DOX-Cmax, 7.11 ± 4.24 ng/mL/mg; p = 0.036). While differences in DN-DOX-AUC remained insignificant, RM-ANOVA revealed significant separation of time concentration curves for DOX (p = 0.023) and DOXOL (p = 0.041) comparing 1, ≥ 2 segments, and lobar cTACE. Additional indicators of higher DN-DOX-Cmax were high ETV (p = 0.047) and Child-Pugh B (p = 0.009). High ETV and tumoral Lipiodol coverage also correlated with tumor response. AE occurred less frequently after segmental cTACE. Conclusions: This prospective clinical trial provides updated PK data revealing Lipiodol distribution as an imaging marker predictive of DOX-Cmax and tumor response after cTACE in liver cancer. Key Points: • Prospective pharmacokinetic analysis after conventional TACE revealed Lipiodol distribution (1 vs. ≥ 2 segments vs. lobar) as an imaging marker predictive of doxorubicin peak concentrations (Cmax). • Child-Pugh B class and tumor hypervascularization, measurable as enhancing tumor volume (ETV) at baseline, were identified as additional predictors for higher dose-normalized doxorubicin Cmaxafter conventional TACE. • ETV at baseline and tumoral Lipiodol coverage can serve as predictors of volumetric tumor response after conventional TACE according to quantitative European Association for the Study of the Liver (qEASL) criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3002-3014
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean radiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Biomarkers, cancer
  • Doxorubicin
  • Lipiodol
  • Liver cancer
  • Pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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