Self-gated, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging with compressed-sensing reconstruction for evaluating endothelial permeability in the aortic root of atherosclerotic mice

Claudia Calcagno, John A. David, Abdallah G. Motaal, Bram F. Coolen, Thijs Beldman, Alexandra Corbin, Arnav Kak, Sarayu Ramachandran, Alison Pruzan, Arthi Sridhar, Raphael Soler, Christopher M. Faries, Zahi A. Fayad, Willem J.M. Mulder, Gustav J. Strijkers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

High-risk atherosclerotic plaques are characterized by active inflammation and abundant leaky microvessels. We present a self-gated, dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) acquisition with compressed sensing reconstruction and apply it to assess longitudinal changes in endothelial permeability in the aortic root of Apoe−/− atherosclerotic mice during natural disease progression. Twenty-four, 8-week-old, female Apoe−/− mice were divided into four groups (n = 6 each) and imaged with self-gated DCE-MRI at 4, 8, 12, and 16 weeks after high-fat diet initiation, and then euthanized for CD68 immunohistochemistry for macrophages. Eight additional mice were kept on a high-fat diet and imaged longitudinally at the same time points. Aortic-root pseudo-concentration curves were analyzed using a validated piecewise linear model. Contrast agent wash-in and washout slopes (b1 and b2) were measured as surrogates of aortic root endothelial permeability and compared with macrophage density by immunohistochemistry. b2, indicating contrast agent washout, was significantly higher in mice kept on an high-fat diet for longer periods of time (p = 0.03). Group comparison revealed significant differences between mice on a high-fat diet for 4 versus 16 weeks (p = 0.03). Macrophage density also significantly increased with diet duration (p = 0.009). Spearman correlation between b2 from DCE-MRI and macrophage density indicated a weak relationship between the two parameters (r = 0.28, p = 0.20). Validated piecewise linear modeling of the DCE-MRI data showed that the aortic root contrast agent washout rate is significantly different during disease progression. Further development of this technique from a single-slice to a 3D acquisition may enable better investigation of the relationship between in vivo imaging of endothelial permeability and atherosclerotic plaques' genetic, molecular, and cellular makeup in this important model of disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4823
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • DCE-MRI
  • atherosclerosis
  • inflammation
  • microvascularization
  • mouse
  • self-gated

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