Influence of aging and gadolinium exposure on T1, T2, and T2*-relaxation in healthy women with an increased risk of breast cancer with and without prior exposure to gadoterate meglumine at 3.0-T brain MR imaging

Eur Radiol. 2022 Jan;32(1):331-345. doi: 10.1007/s00330-021-08069-4. Epub 2021 Jul 3.


Objectives: We examined the effects of aging and of gadolinium-based contrast agent (GBCA) exposure on MRI measurements in brain nuclei of healthy women.

Methods: This prospective, IRB-approved single-center case-control study enrolled 100 healthy participants of our high-risk screening center for hereditary breast cancer, who had received at least six doses of macrocyclic GBCA (exposed group) or were newly entering the program (GBCA-naïve group). The cutoff "at least six doses" was chosen to be able to include a sufficient number of highly exposed participants. All participants underwent unenhanced 3.0-T brain MRI including quantitative T1, T2, and R2* mapping and T1- and T2-weighted imaging. The relaxation times/signal intensities were derived from region of interest measurements in the brain nuclei performed by a radiologist and a neuroradiologist, both board certified. Statistical analysis was based on descriptive evaluations and uni-/multivariable analyses.

Results: The participants (exposed group: 49, control group: 51) were aged 42 ± 9 years. In a multivariable model, age had a clear impact on R2* (p < 0.001-0.012), T2 (p = 0.003-0.048), and T1 relaxation times/signal intensities (p < 0.004-0.046) for the majority of deep brain nuclei, mostly affecting the substantia nigra, globus pallidus (GP), nucleus ruber, thalamus, and dentate nucleus (DN). The effect of prior GBCA administration on T1 relaxation times was statistically significant for the DN, GP, and pons (p = 0.019-0.037).

Conclusions: In a homogeneous group of young to middle-aged healthy females aging had an effect on T2 and R2* relaxation times and former GBCA applications influenced the measured T1 relaxation times.

Key points: The quantitative T1, T2, and R2* relaxation times measured in women at high risk of developing breast cancer showed characteristic bandwidth for all brain nuclei examined at 3.0-T MRI. The effect of participant age had a comparatively strong impact on R2*, T2, and T1 relaxation times for the majority of brain nuclei examined. The effect of prior GBCA administrations on T1 relaxation times rates was comparatively less pronounced, yielding statistically significant results for the dentate nucleus, globus pallidus, and pons. Healthy women with and without previous GBCA-enhanced breast MRI exhibited age-related T2* and T2 relaxation alterations at 3.0 T-brain MRI. T1 relaxation alterations due to prior GBCA administration were comparatively less pronounced.

Keywords: Cerebellar nuclei; Contrast media; Gadolinium; Globus pallidus; Middle aged.

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cerebellar Nuclei
  • Contrast Media
  • Female
  • Gadolinium
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Globus Pallidus
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Meglumine
  • Middle Aged
  • Organometallic Compounds*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Contrast Media
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Meglumine
  • Gadolinium
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • gadoterate meglumine