90Y-/166Ho- ‘Radiation lobectomy’ for liver tumors induces abnormal morphology and impaired drainage of peritumor lymphatics

Daan Andel*, Lotte van den Bent, Marnix Lam, Maarten Smits, Isaac Quintus Molenaar, Joep de Bruijne, Miangela Marie Laclé, Onno Kranenburg, Inne Borel Rinkes, Jeroen Hagendoorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background & Aims: High-dose unilobar radioembolization, or ‘radiation lobectomy’ (RL), is an induction therapy that achieves contralateral future liver remnant hypertrophy while simultaneously irradiating the tumor. As such, it may prevent further growth, but it is unknown whether RL affects intrahepatic lymphatics, a major route via which liver tumors disseminate. Methods: This was a case-control study conducted at University Medical Center Utrecht. The study compared lymph vessels in livers that had undergone RL (cases) with those in livers that had not undergone RL (controls). Histological samples were acquired from patients diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or colorectal liver metastases (CRLM) between 2017 and 2022. Lymph vessel morphology was analyzed by two researchers using podoplanin, a protein that is expressed in lymphatic endothelium. In vivo liver lymph drainage of radioembolized livers was assessed using intraoperative liver lymphangiography (ILL): during liver surgery, patent blue dye was injected into the liver parenchyma, followed by inspection for staining of perihepatic lymph structures. ILL results were compared to a previously published cohort. Results: Immunohistochemical analysis on post-RL tumor tissues from ten patients with CRLM and nine patients with HCC revealed aberrant morphology of irradiated liver lymphatics when compared to controls (n = 3 per group). Irradiated lymphatics were tortuous (p <0.05), thickened (p <0.05) and discontinuous (p <0.05). Moreover, post-RL lymphatics had larger lumens (1.5–1.7x, p <0.0001), indicating lymph stasis. ILL revealed diminished lymphatic drainage to perihepatic lymph nodes and vessels in irradiated livers when compared to non-radioembolized controls (p = 1.0x10-4). Conclusions: Radioembolization impairs peritumoral lymph vessel function. Further research is needed to evaluate if radioembolization impairs tumor dissemination via this route. Impact and implications: Unilobar radioembolization can serve as an alternative to portal venous embolization for patients who are considered unresectable due to an insufficient future liver remnant. This research suggests that radioembolization impairs the function of peritumoral liver lymph vessels, potentially hindering dissemination via this route. These findings provide support for considering unilobar radioembolization over standard portal venous embolization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100981
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalJHEP Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


  • crlm
  • hcc
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intraoperative liver lymphangiography
  • Lymphatics
  • Radiation lobectomy
  • Radioembolization


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