For recurrent high-grade glioma, especially glioblastoma, no standard of care treatment exists. Due to the prolongation of progression-free survival and a cortiocosteroid-sparing effect, bevacizumab is often used in this condition. Despite initial clinical responses, there is growing evidence that bevacizumab may potentiate microstructural alterations which may cause cognitive decline, mostly affecting learning and memory.
To investigate bevacizumab-associated microstructural damage of defined regions of interest (ROIs) in the white matter, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was performed in 10 patients with a case history or third-party report for neurological dysfunction concerning cognitive performance. Serial DTI data before and under bevacizumab were collected and longitudinal changes of fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD) were assessed in mesiotemporal (hippocampal), frontal, and occipital regions.
The longitudinal DTI data under bevacizumab compared to DTI prior to bevacizumab demonstrated a significant decrease in FA and increase in AD and RD both in mesiotemporal (hippocampal) regions and in frontal regions, whereas occipital regions showed no significant alterations in DTI metrics.
The regionally impaired microstructure in mesiotemporal (hippocampal) regions and in frontal regions is in line with the fact that neurocognitive impairment in learning and memory is mostly related to hippocampal integrity and attentional control in frontal regions. Further studies could investigate the potential of DTI to assess bevacizumab-associated microstructural damages in vulnerable brain regions.