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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 18  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 718-724

Prediction of chronic kidney disease in abdominal cancers radiation therapy using the functional assays of normal tissue complication probability models

1 Department of Radiation Sciences, Faculty of Allied Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
2 Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical, Tehran, Iran
3 Department of Radiology Technology, School of Allied Medical Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
4 Department of Radiation Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
5 Department of Radiation Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran
6 Department of Radiation Sciences, Faculty of Allied Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences; Radiation Biology Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Date of Submission30-Jan-2021
Date of Acceptance14-Jul-2021
Date of Web Publication25-Jul-2022

Correspondence Address:
Susan Cheraghi
Department of Radiation Sciences, Faculty of Allied Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Radiation Biology Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences. Shahid Hemmat Highway, P.O. Box 1449614535, Tehran
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jcrt.jcrt_179_21

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 > Abstract 

Aim: The purpose of this study is to predict chronic kidney disease (CKD) in the radiotherapy of abdominal cancers by evaluating clinical and functional assays of normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) models.
Materials and Methods: Radiation renal damage was analyzed in 50 patients with abdominal cancers 12 months after radiotherapy through a clinical estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). According to the common terminology criteria for the scoring system of adverse events, Grade 2 CKD (eGFR ≤30–59 ml/min/1.73 m2) was considered as the radiation therapy endpoint. Modeling and parameter estimation of NTCP models were performed for the Lyman-equivalent uniform dose (EUD), the logit-EUD critical volume (CV), the relative seriality, and the mean dose model.
Results: The confidence interval of the fitted parameters was 95%. The parameter value of D50 was obtained 22–38 Gy, and the n and s parameters were equivalent to 0.006 –3 and 1, respectively. According to the Akaike's information criterion, the mean dose model predicts radiation-induced CKD more accurately than the other models.
Conclusion: Although the renal medulla consists of many nephrons arranged in parallel, each nephron has a seriality architecture as renal functional subunits. Therefore, based on this principle and modeling results in this study, the whole kidney organs may have a serial–parallel combination or a secret architecture.

Keywords: Chronic kidney disease, normal tissue complication probability models, radiotherapy

How to cite this article:
Haghbin A, Mostaar A, Paydar R, Bakhshandeh M, Nikoofar A, Houshyari M, Cheraghi S. Prediction of chronic kidney disease in abdominal cancers radiation therapy using the functional assays of normal tissue complication probability models. J Can Res Ther 2022;18:718-24

How to cite this URL:
Haghbin A, Mostaar A, Paydar R, Bakhshandeh M, Nikoofar A, Houshyari M, Cheraghi S. Prediction of chronic kidney disease in abdominal cancers radiation therapy using the functional assays of normal tissue complication probability models. J Can Res Ther [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Aug 10];18:718-24. Available from: https://www.cancerjournal.net/text.asp?2022/18/3/718/351812

The renal failure caused by ionizing radiation was first observed in 1906 and more comprehensively described by Hall and Whipple in 1919 but quickly dismissed. Subsequently, radiation-induced renal insufficiency was described in human's abdomen irradiation for more than 100 years.[1] Radiation-induced renal damage is classified according to the amount of the received radiation dose and dose fractionation and other systemic cancer treatments that patients receive.[2]

The kidneys are late-responding tissues and radiation-induced nephropathy can result from the kidneys' exposure during abdominal cancers. Radiation therapy (RT) can appear in months to years after exposure as acute or chronic kidney disease (CKD). This delay is associated with a slow turnover in the renal tissue compared to acute responding tissues, such as bone marrow or the gastrointestinal epithelial tissue.[3]

Emami et al. described the probability of developing normal tissue complications and suggested organ tolerance limits based on the volume of the organ irradiated to various doses.[4] Milano et al. updated Emami's normal tissue dose constraints.[5] However, they were unable to modify renal dose tolerance limits given the insignificant availability of published data.

In the quantitative analyses of normal tissue effects in the clinic (QUANTEC), there have been previous studies reviewing the effects of partial kidney irradiation.[6] The kidneys are dose-limiting organs in the abdominal RT, and previous studies were not conducted based on the performance evaluation of normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) in RT planning subject to computed tomography (CT) scans images. While evaluating the treatment planning in RT, a plan is acceptable only if it leads to achieving a high tumor control probability at low NTCP. In recent years, several NTCP models have been developed to predict normal tissue damage following RT.[7],[8] These models have been introduced as new indicators for the evaluation and optimization of RT plans and. Moreover, based on these models, the degree and the definition of radiation damage have been determined through scoring systems. These standard scoring systems quantify the effects of radiation based on the type of structural and functional findings. This study is aimed to introduce the best predictive radiobiological NTCP model to determine the CKD in RT of abdominal cancers.

 > Materials and Methods Top

Patient selection

The study includes prospective analysis in 50 patients aged 25–80 years with abdominal cancers (gastric 84%, cardiac 4%, gall bladder 6%, and pancreas 6%) treated with RT.

To participate in the study, patients should have had normal results on kidney functional tests prior to RT.[9] Patients with kidney disease, cisplatin chemotherapy, diabetes, and hypertension were excluded from the study. Twelve months after the RT, urine and biochemical analyses were performed in all patients to evaluate CKD. CKD was defined as an endpoint through the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR). Each patient was compared with him/herself according to prior RT eGFR. Kidney damages of Grade 2 (eGFR = 59-30 ml/min/1.73 m2) or above were considered to describe CKD based on the standard scoring systems[10] [Table 1] as the common terminology criteria for adverse events (CTCAE version 5).
Table 1: The common terminology criteria for adverse events scoring system for chronic kidney disease definition

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The procedures were carried out under the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation. Patients gave informed consent before enrollment (IR.IUMS.REC 1396.31892).


Patients were treated with the external beam RT to the abdomen. The RT procedure was carried out using a total dose of 40–60 Gy by a 6 MV photon beam of a linear accelerator planned with an isocentric technique to deliver 1.8-2 Gy/d in 5 consecutive days per week. All patients were treated using a three-dimensional treatment planning system (3D-TPS) (CorePLAN) based on patients' CT scans images.

Planning the treatment volume and organs at risk were delineated by an experienced radiation oncologist. The right and left kidneys were delineated individually and combined as a composite total kidney volume.[11] Total kidney differential dose–volume histograms (DVHs) were calculated and imported as input to the NTCP modeling program. Different physical doses were converted into biologically effective doses in 2 Gy fractions (BED2), and the a/b ratio for normal tissue was set to 3 Gy (Equation 1).

BED = D (1 + d|α/[β]) (Equation 1)

Normal tissue complication probability models

Modeling the dose–response for kidney was performed using 5 NTCP models, including the Lyman-equivalent uniform dose (LEUD), the logit-EUD (LogEUD), the critical volume (CV), the relative seriality (RS), and the mean dose model. [Table 2] shows the examined models and descriptions of their parameters.
Table 2: Examined normal tissue complication probability models with a summary of relationship and definition of parameters

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If the EUD dose is delivered uniformly over the organ, it would have the same biological effect as the heterogeneous dose described by the DVH (Equation 2).

In this expression, νi is the fraction of the reference volume irradiated to dose Di in Gy, and α is a unitless parameter for tumor or specific normal tissues, which describes the dose–volume effect. The LEUD model is often used as a mean dose model by fixing the n parameter to 1.[12] The n parameter indicates the volume effect of the organ being assessed. The LogEUD model[13],[14] uses the logit formula coupled with the generalized EUD reduction algorithm (Equation 2).

The RS model is developed to account for the functional organization of functional subunits (FSUs) in an organ more efficiently.[15] The s parameter describes the degree of seriality (the s value varies from zero for parallel organs to higher for increasing seriality). The s parameter in this model is inversely proportional to n in the LEUD model.

Maximum Likelihood fitting and goodness of fit

The maximum likelihood method[8],[16] was employed to determine the best estimation of parameters in NTCP modeling. The best estimation of the parameter values are those that maximize the natural logarithm of the likelihood function [ln L()] (Equation 4).

The vector parameter in these is composed of the models' parameters; NTCPi is used when the ith patient experiences a side effect, and 1 – NTCPi is used when no side effect is observed.

The search for the best values in NTCP modeling parameters was performed by the global optimization toolbox in the MATLAB environment. The 95% confidence intervals of the fitted parameters were calculated using the profile likelihood method.

The goodness of fit was applied by the two-sample Kolmogorov–Smirnov (KS) test to determine significant differences between the cumulative distribution functions. The KS was used to compare the observed (F1) and theoretical (F2) cumulative distribution functions. The test statistic D (Equation 5) detects the largest vertical difference between the empirical distribution and the hypothesized distribution functions.

D = max (|F1(x)-F2(x)|) (Equation 5)

The null hypothesis stated that the observed and theoretical functions have the same continuous distribution. The test statistic (D) will be 1 if the test rejects the null hypothesis at the 5% probability level (P = 0).

The second-order Akaike's information criterion (AIC) (Equation 6) was used for ranking the accepted models[8] as follows:

AIC = −2LL + 2k + ([2k [k + 1]]/[[n – k − 1]]) [Equation 6]

LL is the natural logarithm of the fitted model's likelihood, k is the number of parameters, and n is the number of patients. Models with smaller values of the AIC are considered to provide a better fit to the data than models with larger values of this index.

 > Results Top

Patient and treatment plan characteristics

All 50 patients were assessed by laboratory eGFR and dosimetric data after the RT. A summary of the demographic, clinical, and dosimetric characteristics of the patients is shown in [Table 3].
Table 3: Patient demographics (n=50), values of their dose and volume of kidneys, and their chronic kidney disease damage

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The median-delivered radiation dose to target (gross tumor volume, involved lymph nodes, and/or postoperative tumor bed) was 50.4 Gy.

Changes in eGFR were used to assess the renal function. Grade 2 of CKD (eGFR ≤30–59 ml/min/1.73 m2) was considered as the endpoint. Twenty-nine of 50 patients (58%) classified in Grade 2, Grade 3, or 4 renal damage were not observed in our study.

Normal tissue complication probability models analysis

The resulting optimum parameters with 95% confidence intervals, the goodness of fit, and AIC values of the models are given in [Table 4]. According to the goodness of fit assessed by the two-sample KS test, the CV NTCP model is rejected. The fitted value of the D50 ranged from 22 to 60 Gy. The fitted value of m was 0.45 in the LEUD model. [Figure 1] shows the NTCP curves for the LEUD, LogEUD, RS, and the mean dose model.
Table 4: Model parameters with 95% confidence interval, goodness of fit values and Akaike's information criterion of the models for chronic kidney disease endpoint

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Figure 1: Experimental points and estimated normal tissue complication probability curves for kidneys endpoint by applying (a) Lyman equivalent uniform dose, (b) logit equivalent uniform dose, (c) relative seriality, (d) mean dose models (NTCP curve, ° Estimation of occurrence, *Experimental points)

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The AIC indicated that the mean dose model holds the highest ranking for CKD prediction. The LogEUD and LEUD models were the next best models, with the lowest AIC value.

 > Discussion Top

This study aimed to establish the dose–response relationships and derive NTCP parameters of radiation-induced CKD as an endpoint in patients with abdominal cancers. Due to the kidneys' sensitivity to radiation, they are considered dose-limiting organs in RT. The tolerance dose, the latency period, and clinical toxicities secondary to renal irradiation were described by Kunkler et al.[17],[18] Acute toxicity of kidney occurred in 6–12 months, late effects in 18 months following completion of RT, and development of symptomatic nephropathy appears longer latency after radiation.[19]

Dewit et al. noted an inverse relationship between dose and latency period to developing late effects.[20] Using renal tolerance of 20 Gy to both kidneys, Krochak and Baker described the clinical presentation and pathophysiology of radiation-induced renal dysfunction.[21]

According to several studies in this field, an acceptable tolerance dose has not been determined for the kidneys. Emami et al. analyzed radiation-induced kidney damage and the possibility of normal tissue complications through RT data. Their study stated that the irradiated organ's tolerance depends on the volume of the irradiated organ with different radiation doses. In Emami's study, the kidneys' tolerance for a 5% probability of complication in 5 years was 23 Gy for the whole organ, 30 Gy for two-third volume, and 50 Gy for one-third volume.[22]

Milano et al. updated the dose limits of natural tissue described by Emami.[5] However, they were not able to change the renal dose tolerance. The challenges were over in diagnosing late clinical effects and the definition of renal dose limits.

Johnson et al. observed an exponential decrease in renal function in patients with gastric cancer after postoperative RT.[23]

The maximum dose, mean dose, minimum dose, isodose, and DVH are usually used to evaluate the treatment plan, but this information does not consider the tissues under the study's biological properties. NTCP models show appropriate behavior in describing the experimental data concerning biological properties. These models use DVHs as input to calculate the probability of normal tissue complication.

Withers shown in integral response architectures such as kidneys, complication will occur when a substantial fraction of the FSUs is damaged.[24] In 1991, Niemierko and Goitein investigated the role of organ structure and architecture in the NTCP model based on dose–volume algorithms and reported that normal tissue responds differently to radiation due to its architecture.[25] According to their findings, some organs, such as the kidneys, liver and lung had an integral response so complication occurs when a significant portion of the FSU is damaged. In 1993, these two researchers introduced the CV model and examined the model behavior for the kidneys, considering clinical nephritis as a functional endpoint. They stated that the kidney is a parallel organ because nephrons like FSUs have a parallel relationship. Based on the CV model of Niemierko and Goitein and the description by Kallman, FSU may be specified for different regions of the kidney.[26]

Yorke et al. assumed the kidneys as parallel organs in studying the possibility of complications due to radiation. The linear-quadratic model is used to gain the dose–response of individual cells within an FSU. This model's predictions are compared with an empirical power-law function for uniform partial and whole organ irradiation. The complication is produced if a sufficiently large fraction of the FSUs is inactivated by radiation, and an FSU is inactivated only when all the clonogenic cells within it are killed.[27] The other study is based on the normal tissue dose–volume tolerance in QUANTEC, where the TD5 and TD50 of whole kidneys are 15–18 Gy and 28 Gy, respectively.[6] In the same study, the kidneys were introduced as an example of parallel organs in which the damage to a subunit does not affect the other subunits' function. The kidneys are likened to LKB models with n ≈ 1 like as a parallel organ.[28]

In 2014, Chang et al. introduced kidneys as parallel structurally defined with a group of FSUs (nephrons). In a parallel organ, the loss of function in one part of the organ only affects that part of the organ. There is a threshold volume effect. The partial organ effect does not always correlate with the whole organ function.[29] Kallman et al., reported that the parenchyma of kidney consists of parallel nephrons and each nephron consists of a series of FSUs, all with several regenerative units arranged in parallel. They assume schematic tissue organization structures in the kidney as a parallel–serial model. Each nephron consists of a series of FSUs, all with several regenerative units arranged in parallel. They assume schematic tissue organization structures in the kidney as a parallel–serial model [Figure 2]. The first parallel structure is the capillary system inside the glomerular capsule, followed by the capsule itself and the limbs and Henle's loop. These are the FSUs of a kidney as described by equations.[15]
Figure 2: Schematic of series–parallel nephron architecture[15]

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Olsen et al., in examining model parameters based on clinical data and calculating the NTCP for whole or part of an organ, stated that the kidney is a parallel organ while it is possible nephrons can be interpreted as a functional unit in their secret structure.[30]

Wessels et al., in a study of the effect of model hypotheses on renal dosimetry and response-outcome therapy for radionuclide therapy with the MCNP Monte Carlo code, stated that nephrons are essential renal FSUs and they are responsible for the formation of urine and extends from the cortex to the center (medulla) of the kidney.[31]

Rubin et al. stated that the architecture of kidneys could be defined as “parallel” in terms of the arrangement of FSUs (nephrons) but with some “series” functions.[32] Some organs present a combination of serial and parallel FSU arrangements. The lung airways are arranged in serial, but the smaller airways have a parallel FSU setup. Although the brain is arranged in a parallel FSU structure, the loss of a critical brain region such as optic chiasm can lead to serious complications.

Kim et al. in 2017, in their studies on the factors, predicted to improve damage in different types of organs based on their architecture and the initial state of the injury healing mechanism, renal hilum, and vascular trunk in the category of tissues with secret architecture.[33] In our study, the architectural models did not predict CKD. Furthermore, the AIC showed the highest ranking for the mean dose model. The LogEUD and LEUD models were the next best model, with the lowest AIC value. However, this study is open and can be done with a larger sample size. Our study results confirm Kallman and Kim DN's study that the whole organ of the kidney is a secret or combination architecture (series-parallel), which can be the cause of inconsistencies in existing studies. However, the significant problems in using existing mathematical models to estimate NTCP are needed further studies.[6]

Since the number of active nephrons changes after receiving radiation dose to irradiated volume, as CKD progresses, the number of functioning nephrons decreases. With the eGFR of approximately 60 mL/min/m2, a critical loss of function occurs with no return to recovery.[34] The remaining nephrons function in an increased compensatory mode with hyperfiltration, and the degree of possible compensation is determined by the renal functional reserve.[35]

According to our experience in this study and the results obtained by some studies, although each kidney comprises many nephrons (glomeruli and tubes) arranged in parallel, each nephron has a seriality structure. In addition, it is suggested that the structure type of cortex and renal pelvis structure should be examined furthermore.

 > Conclusion Top

Our study showed that the phenomenological NTCP models can predict CKD better than the models based on FSU models, such as RS and CV models. Although the renal medulla comprises many nephrons arranged in parallel, each nephron, as a renal FSU, has a seriality architecture whose radiation damage is irreversible. Therefore, based on this principle and modeling results in this study, the kidney's whole organ may be a combination of “serial-parallel” or secret architecture. Therefore, we need improved and more accurate models for such organs with a dependence beyond dose–volume relationships and tissue architecture. Finally, we conclude in organs such as kidneys, the pathophysiology of radiation injury is poorly understood and needs further study.

Financial support and sponsorship

This work was supported financially by the Research Chancellor of Iran University of Medical Sciences (96-03-31-31892).

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 > References Top

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  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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