Background: Gadolinium (Gd) Extracellular volume fraction (ECV) by Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (CMR) has been proposed as a non-invasive method for assessment of diffuse myocardial fibrosis. Yet only few studies used 3 T CMR to measure ECV, and the accuracy of ECV measurements at 3 T has not been established. Therefore the aims of the present study were to validate measurement of ECV by MOLLI T1 mapping by 3 T CMR against fibrosis measured by histopathology. We also evaluated the recently proposed hypothesis that native-T1 mapping without contrast injection would be sufficient to detect fibrosis.
Methods: 31 patients (age = 58 ± 17 years, 77% men) with either severe aortic stenosis (n = 12) severe aortic regurgitation (n = 9) or severe mitral regurgitation (n = 10), all free of coronary artery disease, underwent 3 T-CMR with late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) and pre- and post-contrast MOLLI T1 mapping and ECV computation, prior to valve surgery. LV biopsies were performed at the time of surgery, a median 13 [1-30] days later, and stained with picrosirius red. Pre-, and post-contrast T1 values, ECV, and amount of LGE were compared against magnitude of fibrosis by histopathology by Pearson correlation coefficients.
Results: The average amount of interstitial fibrosis by picrosirius red staining in biopsy samples was 6.1 ± 4.3%. ECV computed from pre-post contrast MOLLI T1 time changes was 28.9 ± 5.5%, and correlated (r = 0.78, p < 0.001) strongly with the magnitude of histological fibrosis. By opposition, neither amount of LGE (r = 0.17, p = 0.36) nor native pre-contrast myocardial T1 time (r = -0.18, p = 0.32) correlated with fibrosis by histopathology.
Conclusions: ECV determined by 3 T CMR T1 MOLLI images closely correlates with histologically determined diffuse interstitial fibrosis, providing a non-invasive estimation for quantification of interstitial fibrosis in patients with valve diseases. By opposition, neither non-contrast T1 times nor the amount of LGE were indicative of the magnitude of diffuse interstitial fibrosis measured by histopathology.