Background: To determine the utility of single-contrast-bolus hepatic extracellular volume (ECV) fraction measurement at different time points to detect and quantify hepatic fibrosis.
Methods: Different grades of liver fibrosis were induced in 23 male Sprague-Dawley rats by carbon-tetrachloride (CCl4) intoxication. In ten control rats, no fibrosis was induced. Native T1 values and ECV fraction were assessed by using quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) mapping; only one contrast bolus was applied (gadobutrol 0.1 mmol/kg). ECV values were determined 5, 15, and 25 min after injection. Hepatic fibrosis was quantified histologically by Sirius red staining.
Results: For the 8-week-CCl4 group, the ECV fraction values obtained 5 (23.5 ± 4.8%, mean ± standard deviation), 15 (23.6 ± 4.8%), and 25 min (23.7 ± 4.7%) after injection were constant over time (p = 0.998); constant data 5-25 min after injection were also observed for the 16-week-CCl4 group and controls. Liver ECV after 15 min significantly increased with the severity of fibrosis: 18.0 ± 3.0% (controls) versus 23.6 ± 4.8% (8-week-CCl4) versus 30.5 ± 3.3% (16-week-CCl4) (p < 0.001). ECV values after 5, 15, and 25 min significantly correlated with Sirius red staining (p < 0.001 for all parameters).
Conclusions: Hepatic ECV obtained using a single-contrast-bolus technique can be measured 5, 15, and 25 min after injection, obtaining constant values over time, each of them being suitable to detect diffuse hepatic fibrosis. In clinical practice, post-contrast T1 relaxation times for liver ECV fraction determination might be obtained at only one time point.
Keywords: Extracellular space; Fibrosis; Liver; Magnetic resonance imaging; Rats (Sprague-Dawley).