Background: Diffuse interstitial fibrosis is present in diverse cardiomyopathies and associated with poor prognosis. We investigated whether magnetic resonance imaging-based T1 mapping could quantify the induction and pharmacological suppression of diffuse cardiac fibrosis in murine pressure-overload hypertrophy.
Methods and results: Mice were subjected to transverse aortic constriction or sham surgery. The angiotensin receptor blocker losartan was given to half the animals. Cine-magnetic resonance imaging performed at 7 and 28 days showed hypertrophy and remodeling and systolic and diastolic dysfunction in transverse aortic constriction groups as expected. Late gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging revealed focal signal enhancement at the inferior right ventricular insertion point of transverse aortic constriction mice concordant with the foci of fibrosis in histology. The extracellular volume fraction, calculated from pre- and postcontrast T1 measurements, was elevated by transverse aortic constriction and showed direct linear correlation with picrosirius red collagen volume fraction, thus confirming the suitability of extracellular volume fraction as an in vivo measure of diffuse fibrosis. Treatment with losartan reduced left ventricular dysfunction and prevented increased extracellular volume fraction, indicating that T1 mapping is sensitive to pharmacological prevention of fibrosis.
Conclusions: Magnetic resonance imaging can detect diffuse and focal cardiac fibrosis in a clinically relevant animal model of pressure overload and is sensitive to pharmacological reduction of fibrosis by angiotensin receptor blockade. Thus, T1 mapping can be used to assess antifibrotic therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: T1 mapping; animal model cardiovascular disease; cardiovascular MRI; late-gadolinium enhancement; pressure overload.