Prospective of 31 P MR Spectroscopy in Hepatopancreatobiliary Cancer: A Systematic Review of the Literature.

Leonard W F Seelen, Lieke van den Wildenberg, Wybe J M van der Kemp, Firdaus A A Mohamed Hoesein, Nadia Haj Mohammad, I Quintus Molenaar, Hjalmar C van Santvoort, Jeanine J Prompers, Dennis W J Klomp

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BACKGROUND: The incidence of liver and pancreatic cancer is rising. Patients benefit from current treatments, but there are limitations in the evaluation of (early) response to treatment. Tumor metabolic alterations can be measured noninvasively with phosphorus ( 31 P) magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).

PURPOSE: To conduct a quantitative analysis of the available literature on 31 P MRS performed in hepatopancreatobiliary cancer and to provide insight into its current and potential for therapy (non-) response assessment.

POPULATION: Patients with hepatopancreatobiliary cancer. FIELD STRENGTH/SEQUENCE: 31 P MRS.

ASSESSMENT: The PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane library databases were systematically searched for studies published to 17 March 17, 2022. All 31 P MRS studies in hepatopancreatobiliary cancer reporting 31 P metabolite levels were included.

STATISTICAL TESTS: Relative differences in 31 P metabolite levels/ratios between patients before therapy and healthy controls, and the relative changes in 31 P metabolite levels/ratios in patients before and after therapy were determined.

RESULTS: The search yielded 10 studies, comprising 301 subjects, of whom 132 (44%) healthy volunteers and 169 (56%) patients with liver cancer of various etiology. To date, 31 P MRS has not been applied in pancreatic cancer. In liver cancer, alterations in levels of 31 P metabolites involved in cell proliferation (phosphomonoesters [PMEs] and phosphodiesters [PDEs]) and energy metabolism (ATP and inorganic phosphate [Pi]) were observed. In particular, liver tumors were associated with elevations of PME/PDE and PME/Pi compared to healthy liver tissue, although there was a broad variety among studies (elevations of 2%-267% and 21%-233%, respectively). Changes in PME/PDE in liver tumors upon therapy were substantial, yet very heterogeneous and both decreases and increases were observed, whereas PME/Pi was consistently decreased after therapy in all studies (-13% to -76%).

DATA CONCLUSION: 31 P MRS has great potential for treatment monitoring in oncology. Future studies are needed to correlate the changes in 31 P metabolite levels in hepatopancreatobiliary tumors with treatment response.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1144-1155
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
Early online date2 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • P-31 magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • cancer
  • hepatopancreatobiliary cancer
  • liver
  • metabolites
  • pancreas
  • treatment response
  • P magnetic resonance spectroscopy


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