Amide proton transfer-weighted MRI for predicting histological grade of hepatocellular carcinoma: Comparison with diffusionweighted imaging

Yue Lin, Xiaojie Luo, Lu Yu, Yi Zhang, Jinyuan Zhou, Yuwei Jiang, Chen Zhang, Jintao Zhang, Chunmei Li, Min Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common primary malignant tumor of the liver, preoperative grading of HCC is of great clinical significance. Amide proton transfer-weighted (APTw) imaging, as a novel contrast mechanism in the field of molecular imaging, provided new diagnostic ideas for the grading of HCC. Methods: Between May 2017 and April 2018, 32 consecutive patients with pathologically confirmed HCC were enrolled, including 19 high-grade HCCs and 13 low-grade HCCs. DWI and APTw scanning was performed on a 3T MRI scanner. Two observers drew regions of interest independently by referring to the axial T2-weighted imaging, and APTw and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values were obtained. Inter- and intra-observer agreements were assessed with the intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs). The independent sample t test was used to compare the APTw and ADC values between the high- and low-grade HCC tumor parenchyma. The receiver operating characteristic curve was used to analyze the diagnostic efficacy of high- from low-grade HCC tumors. Spearman correlation analysis was used to assess the relationship between APTw and ADC values and HCC histological grades. Results: There were significant differences between the APTw or ADC values for the high- and low-grade HCCs (P=0.034 and 0.010). Both APTw and DWI had good diagnostic performance in differentiating the high- from the low-grade HCCs, with areas under the curves of 0.814 and 0.745, respectively. Moderate correlations existed between APTw values and histological grades (r=0.534; P=0.002), as well as ADC values and histological grades (r=-0.417; P=0.018). Conclusions: The APTw imaging is a useful imaging biomarker that complements DWI for the more accurate and comprehensive HCC characterization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1641-1651
Number of pages11
JournalQuantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2019


  • Amide proton transfer-weighted imaging
  • Apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC)
  • Diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI)
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Histological grade

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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