Imaging the WHO 2021 Brain Tumor Classification: Fully Automated Analysis of Imaging Features of Newly Diagnosed Gliomas

Michael Griessmair, Claire Delbridge, Julian Ziegenfeuter, Denise Bernhardt, Jens Gempt, Friederike Schmidt-Graf, Olivia Kertels, Marie Thomas, Hanno S. Meyer, Claus Zimmer, Bernhard Meyer, Stephanie E. Combs, Igor Yakushev, Benedikt Wiestler, Marie Christin Metz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: The fifth version of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) in 2021 brought substantial changes. Driven by the enhanced implementation of molecular characterization, some diagnoses were adapted while others were newly introduced. How these changes are reflected in imaging features remains scarcely investigated. Materials and Methods: We retrospectively analyzed 226 treatment-naive primary brain tumor patients from our institution who received extensive molecular characterization by epigenome-wide methylation microarray and were diagnosed according to the 2021 WHO brain tumor classification. From multimodal preoperative 3T MRI scans, we extracted imaging metrics via a fully automated, AI-based image segmentation and processing pipeline. Subsequently, we examined differences in imaging features between the three main glioma entities (glioblastoma, astrocytoma, and oligodendroglioma) and particularly investigated new entities such as astrocytoma, WHO grade 4. Results: Our results confirm prior studies that found significantly higher median CBV (p = 0.00003, ANOVA) and lower median ADC in contrast-enhancing areas of glioblastomas, compared to astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas (p = 0.41333, ANOVA). Interestingly, molecularly defined glioblastoma, which usually does not contain contrast-enhancing areas, also shows significantly higher CBV values in the non-enhancing tumor than common glioblastoma and astrocytoma grade 4 (p = 0.01309, ANOVA). Conclusions: This work provides extensive insights into the imaging features of gliomas in light of the new 2021 WHO CNS tumor classification. Advanced imaging shows promise in visualizing tumor biology and improving the diagnosis of brain tumor patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2355
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • WHO CNS 2021
  • glioma
  • methylation analysis


Dive into the research topics of 'Imaging the WHO 2021 Brain Tumor Classification: Fully Automated Analysis of Imaging Features of Newly Diagnosed Gliomas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this