Molecular Imaging and Biology

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 368–374 | Cite as

Associations Between [18F]FDG-PET and Complex Histopathological Parameters Including Tumor Cell Count and Expression of KI 67, EGFR, VEGF, HIF-1α, and p53 in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma

  • Alexey SurovEmail author
  • Hans Jonas Meyer
  • Anne-Kathrin Höhn
  • Karsten Winter
  • Osama Sabri
  • Sandra Purz
Research Article



Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is one of common cancers worldwide. Positron emission tomography (PET) with 2-deoxy-2-[18F]fluoro-d-glucose ([18F]FDG) is increasingly used for diagnosing and staging, as well as for monitoring of treatment of HNSCC. PET parameters like maximum and mean standard uptake values (SUVmax, SUVmean) can predict the behavior of HNSCC. The purpose of this study was to analyze possible associations between these PET parameters and clinically relevant histopathological features in patients with HNSCC.


Overall, 22 patients, mean age, 55.2 ± 11.0 years, with different HNSCC were acquired. Low grade (G1/2) tumors were diagnosed in 10 cases (45 %) and high grade (G3) tumor in 12 (55 %) patients. In all cases, whole body PET was performed. For this study, the following specimen stainings were performed: MIB-1 staining (KI 67 expression), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), tumor suppressor protein p53, hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, and human papilloma virus (p16 expression). All stained specimens were digitalized and analyzed by using the ImageJ software 1.48v. Spearman’s correlation coefficient (ρ) was used to analyze associations between investigated parameters. P values <0.05 were taken to indicate statistical significance.


P16-negative tumors showed statistically significant higher SUVmax (ρ = 0.006) and SUVmean values (ρ = 0.002) in comparison to p16-positive carcinomas. No significant differences were identified in the analyzed parameters between poorly and moderately/well-differentiated tumors. In overall sample, there were no statistically significant correlations between the [18F]FDG-PET and histopathological parameters. Also, in G1/2 tumors, no significant correlations were identified. In G3 carcinomas, cell count correlated statistical significant with SUVmax (p = 0.580, P = 0.048) and SUVmean (ρ = 0.587, P = 0.045).


Associations between [18F]FDG-PET parameters and different histopathological features in HNSCC depend significantly on tumor grading. In G1/2 carcinomas, there were no significant correlations between [18F]FDG-PET parameters and histopathology. In G3 lesions, SUVmax and SUVmean reflect tumor cellularity.

Key words



Authors’ Contributions

AS drafted the manuscript and participated in the design of the study. HJM participated in the design of the study and coordination and participated in the histopathological analyses. AKH performed the histopathological analyses. KW performed the statistical analysis. OS participated in the design of the study and coordination. SP participated in the design of the study and helped to draft the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethics Approval and Consent to Participate

This prospective study was approved by the institutional review board (Ethic Committee of the Medical Faculty, University of Leipzig) and all patients gave written informed consent. All procedures performed in the present study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Consent for Publication

Consent for publication is not applicable for this study.

Availability of Data and Material

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© World Molecular Imaging Society 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional RadiologyUniversity Hospital of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity Hospital of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  3. 3.Institute of AnatomyUniversity Hospital of LeipzigLeipzigGermany
  4. 4.Department of Nuclear MedicineUniversity Hospital of LeipzigLeipzigGermany

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