Iron imaging in myocardial infarction reperfusion injury

Nat Commun. 2020 Jun 29;11(1):3273. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16923-0.


Restoration of coronary blood flow after a heart attack can cause reperfusion injury potentially leading to impaired cardiac function, adverse tissue remodeling and heart failure. Iron is an essential biometal that may have a pathologic role in this process. There is a clinical need for a precise noninvasive method to detect iron for risk stratification of patients and therapy evaluation. Here, we report that magnetic susceptibility imaging in a large animal model shows an infarct paramagnetic shift associated with duration of coronary artery occlusion and the presence of iron. Iron validation techniques used include histology, immunohistochemistry, spectrometry and spectroscopy. Further mRNA analysis shows upregulation of ferritin and heme oxygenase. While conventional imaging corroborates the findings of iron deposition, magnetic susceptibility imaging has improved sensitivity to iron and mitigates confounding factors such as edema and fibrosis. Myocardial infarction patients receiving reperfusion therapy show magnetic susceptibility changes associated with hypokinetic myocardial wall motion and microvascular obstruction, demonstrating potential for clinical translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Ferritins / metabolism
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing) / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Iron / analysis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / physiopathology
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / diagnostic imaging*
  • Myocardial Reperfusion Injury / pathology
  • Wound Healing


  • Ferritins
  • Iron
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing)