Tumor associated macrophages (TAM) in malignant tumors have been linked to tumor aggressiveness and represent a new target for cancer immunotherapy. As new TAM-targeted immunotherapies are entering clinical trials, it is important to detect and quantify TAM with non-invasive imaging techniques. The purpose of this study was to determine if ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI can detect TAM in lymphomas and bone sarcomas of pediatric patients and young adults.In a first-in-patient, IRB-approved prospective clinical trial, 25 pediatric and young adult patients with lymphoma or bone sarcoma underwent ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI. To confirm ferumoxytol enhancement, five pilot patients (2 lymphoma, 3 bone sarcoma) underwent pre- and post-contrast MRI. Subsequently, 20 patients (10 lymphoma, 10 bone sarcoma) underwent ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI 24-48 hours after intravenous injection, followed by tumor biopsy/resection and macrophage staining. To determine if ferumoxytol-MRI can differentiate tumors with different TAM content, we compared T2* relaxation times of lymphomas and bone sarcomas. Tumor T2* values of 20 patients were correlated with CD68+ and CD163+ TAM quantities on histopathology.Significant ferumoxytol tumor enhancement was noted on post-contrast scans compared to pre-contrast scans (P = 0.036). Bone sarcomas and lymphomas demonstrated significantly different MRI enhancement and TAM density (P < 0.05). Within each tumor group, T2* signal enhancement on MR images correlated significantly with the density of CD68+ and CD163+ TAM (P < 0.05).Ferumoxytol-enhanced MRI is immediately clinically applicable and could be used to stratify patients with TAM-rich tumors to immune-targeted therapies and to monitor tumor response to these therapies.
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