Peri-tumoural spatial distribution of lipid composition and tubule formation in breast cancer

Kwok-Shing Chan, Gabriel Cheung* (Corresponding Author), Nicholas Senn de Vries, Ehab Husain, Yazan Masannat, Steven Heys, Jiabao He

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Response guided treatment in breast cancer is highly desirable, but the effectiveness is only established based on residual cellularity from histopathological analysis after surgery. Tubule formation, a key component of grading score, is directly associated with cellularity, with significant implications on prognosis. Peri-tumoural lipid composition, a potential marker, can be rapidly mapped across the entire breast using novel method of chemical shift-encoded imaging, enabling the quantification of spatial distribution. We hypothesise that peri-tumoural spatial distribution of lipid composition is sensitive to tumour cellular differentiation and proliferative activity.
Methods: Twenty whole tumour specimens freshly excised from patients with invasive ductal carcinoma (9 Score 2 and 11 Score 3 in tubule formation) were scanned on a 3 T clinical scanner (Achieva TX, Philips Healthcare).
Quantitative lipid composition maps were acquired for polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids (PUFA, MUFA, SFA). The peritumoural spatial distribution (mean, skewness, entropy and kurtosis) of each lipid constituent were then computed. The proliferative activity marker Ki-67 and tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) were assessed histologically.
Results: For MUFA, there were significant differences between groups in mean (p = 0.0119), skewness (p = 0.0116), entropy (p = 0.0223), kurtosis (p = 0.0381), and correlations against Ki-67 in mean (ρ = -0.5414), skewness (ρ =
0.6045) and entropy (ρ = 0.6677), and TILs in mean (ρ = -0.4621). For SFA, there were significant differences between groups in mean (p = 0.0329) and skewness (p = 0.0111), and correlation against Ki-67 in mean (ρ = 0.5910).
For PUFA, there was no significant difference in mean, skewness, entropy or kurtosis between the groups.
Conclusions: There was an association between peri-tumoural spatial distribution of lipid composition with tumour cellular differentiation and proliferation. Peri-tumoural lipid composition imaging might have potential in non-invasive quantitative assessment of patients with breast cancer for treatment planning and monitoring.
Original languageEnglish
Article number285
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Cancer
Early online date17 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 17 Mar 2022


  • heterogeneity
  • skewness
  • entropy
  • kurtosis
  • monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
  • Heterogeneity
  • Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA)
  • Skewness
  • Entropy
  • Kurtosis


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