Left atrial aging: a cardiac magnetic resonance feature-tracking study

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2016 Mar 1;310(5):H542-9. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00504.2015. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


Importance of left atrial (LA) phasic function evaluation is increasingly recognized for its incremental value in terms of prognosis and risk stratification. LA phasic deformation in the pathway of normal aging has been characterized using echocardiographic speckle tracking. However, no data are available regarding age-related variations using feature-racking (FT) techniques from standard cine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We studied 94 healthy adults (41 ± 14 yr, 47 women), who underwent MRI and Doppler echocardiography on the same day for left ventricular (LV) diastolic function evaluation. From cine MRI, longitudinal strain and strain rate, radial motion fraction, and radial relative velocity, respectively, corresponding to the reservoir, conduit, and LA contraction phases, were measured using dedicated FT software. Longitudinal strain and radial motion fraction decreased gradually and significantly with aging for both reservoir (r > 0.31, P < 0.003) and conduit (r > 0.54, P < 0.001) phases, whereas they remained unchanged during the LA contraction phase. Subsequently, the LA contraction-to-reservoir ratio increased significantly with age (r > 0.44, P < 0.001). Longitudinal strain rate and radial relative velocity significantly decreased with age (reservoir: r = 0.39, P < 0.001, conduit: r > 0.54, P < 0.001), and these associations tended to be stronger in women than in men. Finally, associations of LA functional indexes with age were stronger in individuals with lower transmitral early-to-atrial maximal velocity ratio and mitral annulus maximal longitudinal velocity, as well as higher transmitral early maximal-to-mitral annulus maximal longitudinal velocity ratio, highlighting the LV-LA interplay. Age-related changes in LA phasic function indexes were quantified by cine MRI images using a FT technique and were significantly related to age and LV diastolic function.

Keywords: aging; feature tracking; left atrial function; magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aging* / pathology
  • Atrial Function, Left*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Echocardiography, Doppler
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Heart Atria / diagnostic imaging
  • Heart Atria / pathology
  • Heart Atria / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Cine*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Contraction*
  • Sex Factors
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors
  • Ventricular Function, Left
  • Young Adult