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1.  In vivo monitoring of sorafenib therapy effects on experimental prostate carcinomas using dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI and macromolecular contrast media 
Cancer Imaging  2013;13(4):557-566.
Abstract
Purpose: To investigate dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (DCE-MRI) with macromolecular contrast media (MMCM) to monitor the effects of the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib on subcutaneous prostate carcinomas in rats with immunohistochemical validation. Materials and methods: Copenhagen rats, implanted with prostate carcinoma allografts, were randomized to the treatment group (n = 8) or the control group (n = 8). DCE-MRI with albumin-(Gd-DTPA)35 was performed at baseline and after 1 week using a clinical 3-Tesla system. The treatment group received sorafenib, 10 mg/kg body weight daily. Kinetic analysis yielded quantitative parameters of tumor endothelial permeability–surface area product (PS; ml/100 ml/min) and fractional blood volume (Vb, %). Tumors were harvested on day 7 for immunohistochemical analysis. Results: In sorafenib-treated tumors, PS (0.62 ± 0.20 vs 0.08 ± 0.09 ml/100 ml/min; P < 0.01) and Vb (5.1 ± 1.0 vs 0.56 ± 0.48%; P < 0.01) decreased significantly from day 0 to day 7. PS showed a highly significant inverse correlation with tumor cell apoptosis (TUNEL; r = −0.85, P < 0.001). Good, significant correlations of PS were also observed with tumor cell proliferation (Ki-67; r = 0.67, P < 0.01) and tumor vascularity (RECA-1; r = 0.72, P < 0.01). MRI-assayed fractional blood volume Vb showed a highly significant correlation with tumor vascularity (RECA-1; r = 0.87, P < 0.001) and tumor cell proliferation (Ki-67; r = 0.82, P < 0.01). Conclusion: Results of DCE-MRI with MMCM demonstrated good, significant correlations with the immunohistochemically assessed antiangiogenic, antiproliferative, and proapoptotic effects of a 1-week, daily treatment course of sorafenib on experimental prostate carcinoma allografts.
doi:10.1102/1470-7330.2013.0049
PMCID: PMC3876822  PMID: 24380871
Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI; drug response biomarker; sorafenib; prostate carcinoma; immunohistochemistry
2.  Correlation of Perfusion MRI and 18F-FDG PET Imaging Biomarkers for Monitoring Regorafenib Therapy in Experimental Colon Carcinomas with Immunohistochemical Validation 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(2):e0115543.
Objectives
To investigate a multimodal, multiparametric perfusion MRI / 18F-fluoro-deoxyglucose-(18F-FDG)-PET imaging protocol for monitoring regorafenib therapy effects on experimental colorectal adenocarcinomas in rats with immunohistochemical validation.
Materials and Methods
Human colorectal adenocarcinoma xenografts (HT-29) were implanted subcutaneously in n = 17 (n = 10 therapy group; n = 7 control group) female athymic nude rats (Hsd:RH-Foxn1rnu). Animals were imaged at baseline and after a one-week daily treatment protocol with regorafenib (10 mg/kg bodyweight) using a multimodal, multiparametric perfusion MRI/18F-FDG-PET imaging protocol. In perfusion MRI, quantitative parameters of plasma flow (PF, mL/100 mL/min), plasma volume (PV, %) and endothelial permeability-surface area product (PS, mL/100 mL/min) were calculated. In 18F-FDG-PET, tumor-to-background-ratio (TTB) was calculated. Perfusion MRI parameters were correlated with TTB and immunohistochemical assessments of tumor microvascular density (CD-31) and cell proliferation (Ki-67).
Results
Regorafenib significantly (p<0.01) suppressed PF (81.1±7.5 to 50.6±16.0 mL/100mL/min), PV (12.1±3.6 to 7.5±1.6%) and PS (13.6±3.2 to 7.9±2.3 mL/100mL/min) as well as TTB (3.4±0.6 to 1.9±1.1) between baseline and day 7. Immunohistochemistry revealed significantly (p<0.03) lower tumor microvascular density (CD-31, 7.0±2.4 vs. 16.1±5.9) and tumor cell proliferation (Ki-67, 434.0 ± 62.9 vs. 663.0 ± 98.3) in the therapy group. Perfusion MRI parameters ΔPF, ΔPV and ΔPS showed strong and significant (r = 0.67-0.78; p<0.01) correlations to the PET parameter ΔTTB and significant correlations (r = 0.57-0.67; p<0.03) to immunohistochemical Ki-67 as well as to CD-31-stainings (r = 0.49-0.55; p<0.05).
Conclusions
A multimodal, multiparametric perfusion MRI/PET imaging protocol allowed for non-invasive monitoring of regorafenib therapy effects on experimental colorectal adenocarcinomas in vivo with significant correlations between perfusion MRI parameters and 18F-FDG-PET validated by immunohistochemistry.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115543
PMCID: PMC4323201  PMID: 25668193
3.  X-Ray Phase-Contrast Tomography of Renal Ischemia-Reperfusion Damage 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109562.
Purpose
The aim of the study was to investigate microstructural changes occurring in unilateral renal ischemia-reperfusion injury in a murine animal model using synchrotron radiation.
Material and Methods
The effects of renal ischemia-reperfusion were investigated in a murine animal model of unilateral ischemia. Kidney samples were harvested on day 18. Grating-Based Phase-Contrast Imaging (GB-PCI) of the paraffin-embedded kidney samples was performed at a Synchrotron Radiation Facility (beam energy of 19 keV). To obtain phase information, a two-grating Talbot interferometer was used applying the phase stepping technique. The imaging system provided an effective pixel size of 7.5 µm. The resulting attenuation and differential phase projections were tomographically reconstructed using filtered back-projection. Semi-automated segmentation and volumetry and correlation to histopathology were performed.
Results
GB-PCI provided good discrimination of the cortex, outer and inner medulla in non-ischemic control kidneys. Post-ischemic kidneys showed a reduced compartmental differentiation, particularly of the outer stripe of the outer medulla, which could not be differentiated from the inner stripe. Compared to the contralateral kidney, after ischemia a volume loss was detected, while the inner medulla mainly retained its volume (ratio 0.94). Post-ischemic kidneys exhibited severe tissue damage as evidenced by tubular atrophy and dilatation, moderate inflammatory infiltration, loss of brush borders and tubular protein cylinders.
Conclusion
In conclusion GB-PCI with synchrotron radiation allows for non-destructive microstructural assessment of parenchymal kidney disease and vessel architecture. If translation to lab-based approaches generates sufficient density resolution, and with a time-optimized image analysis protocol, GB-PCI may ultimately serve as a non-invasive, non-enhanced alternative for imaging of pathological changes of the kidney.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0109562
PMCID: PMC4192129  PMID: 25299243
4.  Computed tomography angiography vs 3 T black-blood cardiovascular magnetic resonance for identification of symptomatic carotid plaques 
Background
The purpose of this prospective study was to perform a head-to-head comparison of the two methods most frequently used for evaluation of carotid plaque characteristics: Multi-detector Computed Tomography Angiography (MDCTA) and black-blood 3 T-cardiovascular magnetic resonance (bb-CMR) with respect to their ability to identify symptomatic carotid plaques.
Methods
22 stroke unit patients with unilateral symptomatic carotid disease and >50% stenosis by duplex ultrasound underwent MDCTA and bb-CMR (TOF, pre- and post-contrast fsT1w-, and fsT2w- sequences) within 15 days of symptom onset. Both symptomatic and contralateral asymptomatic sides were evaluated. By bb-CMR, plaque morphology, composition and prevalence of complicated AHA type VI lesions (AHA-LT6) were evaluated. By MDCTA, plaque type (non-calcified, mixed, calcified), plaque density in HU and presence of ulceration and/or thrombus were evaluated. Sensitivity (SE), specificity (SP), positive and negative predictive value (PPV, NPV) were calculated using a 2-by-2-table.
Results
To distinguish between symptomatic and asymptomatic plaques AHA-LT6 was the best CMR variable and presence / absence of plaque ulceration was the best CT variable, resulting in a SE, SP, PPV and NPV of 80%, 80%, 80% and 80% for AHA-LT6 as assessed by bb-CMR and 40%, 95%, 89% and 61% for plaque ulceration as assessed by MDCTA. The combined SE, SP, PPV and NPV of bb-CMR and MDCTA was 85%, 75%, 77% and 83%, respectively.
Conclusions
Bb-CMR is superior to MDCTA at identifying symptomatic carotid plaques, while MDCTA offers high specificity at the cost of low sensitivity. Results were only slightly improved over bb-CMR alone when combining both techniques.
doi:10.1186/s12968-014-0084-y
PMCID: PMC4189681  PMID: 25315518
Plaque imaging; Ischemic stroke; Atherosclerosis; Symptomatic carotid plaque; CT; Cardiovascular magnetic resonance
5.  Monitoring Early Response to Anti-Angiogenic Therapy: Diffusion-Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Volume Measurements in Colon Carcinoma Xenografts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106970.
Objectives
To evaluate the use of diffusion-weighted MRI (DW-MRI) and volume measurements for early monitoring of antiangiogenic therapy in an experimental tumor model.
Materials and Methods
23 athymic nude rats, bearing human colon carcinoma xenografts (HT-29) were examined before and after 6 days of treatment with regorafenib (n = 12) or placebo (n = 11) in a clinical 3-Tesla MRI. For DW-MRI, a single-shot EPI sequence with 9 b-values (10–800 s/mm2) was used. The apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) was calculated voxelwise and its median value over a region of interest, covering the entire tumor, was defined as the tumor ADC. Tumor volume was determined using T2-weighted images. ADC and volume changes between first and second measurement were evaluated as classifiers by a receiver-operator-characteristic (ROC) analysis individually and combined using Fisher's linear discriminant analysis (FLDA).
Results
All ADCs and volumes are stated as median±standard deviation. Tumor ADC increased significantly in the therapy group (0.76±0.09×10−3 mm2/s to 0.90±0.12×10−3 mm2/s; p<0.001), with significantly higher changes of tumor ADC than in the control group (0.10±0.11×10−3 mm2/s vs. 0.03±0.09×10−3 mm2/s; p = 0.027). Tumor volume increased significantly in both groups (therapy: 347.8±449.1 to 405.3±823.6 mm3; p = 0.034; control: 219.7±79.5 to 443.7±141.5 mm3; p<0.001), however, the therapy group showed significantly reduced tumor growth (33.30±47.30% vs. 96.43±31.66%; p<0.001). Area under the curve and accuracy of the ADC-based ROC analysis were 0.773 and 78.3%; and for the volume change 0.886 and 82.6%. The FLDA approach yielded an AUC of 0.985 and an accuracy of 95.7%.
Conclusions
Regorafenib therapy significantly increased tumor ADC after 6 days of treatment and also significantly reduced tumor growth. However, ROC analyses using each parameter individually revealed a lack of accuracy in discriminating between therapy and control group. The combination of both parameters using FLDA substantially improved diagnostic accuracy, thus highlighting the potential of multi-parameter MRI as an imaging biomarker for non-invasive early tumor therapy monitoring.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106970
PMCID: PMC4164617  PMID: 25222284
6.  Penumbra Pattern Assessment in Acute Stroke Patients: Comparison of Quantitative and Non-Quantitative Methods in Whole Brain CT Perfusion 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105413.
Background And Purpose
While penumbra assessment has become an important part of the clinical decision making for acute stroke patients, there is a lack of studies measuring the reliability and reproducibility of defined assessment techniques in the clinical setting. Our aim was to determine reliability and reproducibility of different types of three-dimensional penumbra assessment methods in stroke patients who underwent whole brain CT perfusion imaging (WB-CTP).
Materials And Methods
We included 29 patients with a confirmed MCA infarction who underwent initial WB-CTP with a scan coverage of 100 mm in the z-axis. Two blinded and experienced readers assessed the flow-volume-mismatch twice and in two quantitative ways: Performing a volumetric mismatch analysis using OsiriX imaging software (MMVOL) and visual estimation of mismatch (MMEST). Complementarily, the semiquantitative Alberta Stroke Programme Early CT Score for CT perfusion was used to define mismatch (MMASPECTS). A favorable penumbral pattern was defined by a mismatch of ≥30% in combination with a cerebral blood flow deficit of ≤90 ml and an MMASPECTS score of ≥1, respectively. Inter- and intrareader agreement was determined by Kappa-values and ICCs.
Results
Overall, MMVOL showed considerably higher inter-/intrareader agreement (ICCs: 0.751/0.843) compared to MMEST (0.292/0.749). In the subgroup of large (≥50 mL) perfusion deficits, inter- and intrareader agreement of MMVOL was excellent (ICCs: 0.961/0.942), while MMEST interreader agreement was poor (0.415) and intrareader agreement was good (0.919). With respect to penumbra classification, MMVOL showed the highest agreement (interreader agreement: 25 agreements/4 non-agreements/κ: 0.595; intrareader agreement 27/2/0.833), followed by MMEST (22/7/0.471; 23/6/0.577), and MMASPECTS (18/11/0.133; 21/8/0.340).
Conclusion
The evaluated approach of volumetric mismatch assessment is superior to pure visual and ASPECTS penumbra pattern assessment in WB-CTP and helps to precisely judge the extent of 3-dimensional mismatch in acute stroke patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105413
PMCID: PMC4140765  PMID: 25144396
7.  Use of Neuroanatomical Pattern Classification to Identify Subjects in At-Risk Mental States of Psychosis and Predict Disease Transition 
Archives of general psychiatry  2009;66(7):700-712.
Context
Identification of individuals at high risk of developing psychosis has relied on prodromal symptomatology. Recently, machine learning algorithms have been successfully used for magnetic resonance imaging–based diagnostic classification of neuropsychiatric patient populations.
Objective
To determine whether multivariate neuroanatomical pattern classification facilitates identification of individuals in different at-risk mental states (ARMS) of psychosis and enables the prediction of disease transition at the individual level.
Design
Multivariate neuroanatomical pattern classification was performed on the structural magnetic resonance imaging data of individuals in early or late ARMS vs healthy controls (HCs). The predictive power of the method was then evaluated by categorizing the baseline imaging data of individuals with transition to psychosis vs those without transition vs HCs after 4 years of clinical follow-up. Classification generalizability was estimated by cross-validation and by categorizing an independent cohort of 45 new HCs.
Setting
Departments of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.
Participants
The first classification analysis included 20 early and 25 late at-risk individuals and 25 matched HCs. The second analysis consisted of 15 individuals with transition, 18 without transition, and 17 matched HCs.
Main Outcome Measures
Specificity, sensitivity, and accuracy of classification.
Results
The 3-group, cross-validated classification accuracies of the first analysis were 86% (HCs vs the rest), 91% (early at-risk individuals vs the rest), and 86% (late at-risk individuals vs the rest). The accuracies in the second analysis were 90% (HCs vs the rest), 88% (individuals with transition vs the rest), and 86% (individuals without transition vs the rest). Independent HCs were correctly classified in 96% (first analysis) and 93% (second analysis) of cases.
Conclusions
Different ARMSs and their clinical outcomes may be reliably identified on an individual basis by assessing patterns of whole-brain neuroanatomical abnormalities. These patterns may serve as valuable biomarkers for the clinician to guide early detection in the prodromal phase of psychosis.
doi:10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2009.62
PMCID: PMC4135464  PMID: 19581561
8.  CT-Angiography–Based Evaluation of the Aortic Annulus for Prosthesis Sizing in Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI)–Predictive Value and Optimal Thresholds for Major Anatomic Parameters 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103481.
Background/Objectives
To evaluate the predictive value of CT-derived measurements of the aortic annulus for prosthesis sizing in transcatheter aortic valve implantation (TAVI) and to calculate optimal cutoff values for the selection of various prosthesis sizes.
Methods
The local IRB waived approval for this single-center retrospective analysis. Of 441 consecutive TAVI-patients, 90 were excluded (death within 30 days: 13; more than mild aortic regurgitation: 10; other reasons: 67). In the remaining 351 patients, the CoreValve (Medtronic) and the Edwards Sapien XT valve (Edwards Lifesciences) were implanted in 235 and 116 patients. Optimal prosthesis size was determined during TAVI by inflation of a balloon catheter at the aortic annulus. All patients had undergone CT-angiography of the heart or body trunk prior to TAVI. Using these datasets, the diameter of the long and short axis as well as the circumference and the area of the aortic annulus were measured. Multi-Class Receiver-Operator-Curve analyses were used to determine the predictive value of all variables and to define optimal cutoff-values.
Results
Differences between patients who underwent implantation of the small, medium or large prosthesis were significant for all except the large vs. medium CoreValve (all p’s<0.05). Furthermore, mean diameter, annulus area and circumference had equally high predictive value for prosthesis size for both manufacturers (multi-class AUC’s: 0.80, 0.88, 0.91, 0.88, 0.88, 0.89). Using the calculated optimal cutoff-values, prosthesis size is predicted correctly in 85% of cases.
Conclusion
CT-based aortic root measurements permit excellent prediction of the prosthesis size considered optimal during TAVI.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0103481
PMCID: PMC4118882  PMID: 25084451
10.  Visualizing Typical Features of Breast Fibroadenomas Using Phase-Contrast CT: An Ex-Vivo Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97101.
Background
Fibroadenoma is the most common benign solid breast lesion type and a very common cause for histologic assessment. To justify a conservative therapy, a highly specific discrimination between fibroadenomas and other breast lesions is crucial. Phase-contrast imaging offers improved soft-tissue contrast and differentiability of fine structures combined with the potential of 3-dimensional imaging. In this study we assessed the potential of grating-based phase-contrast CT imaging for visualizing diagnostically relevant features of fibroadenomas.
Materials and Methods
Grating-based phase-contrast CT was performed on six ex-vivo formalin-fixed breast specimens containing a fibroadenoma and three samples containing benign changes that resemble fibroadenomas using Talbot Lau interferometry and a polychromatic X-ray source. Phase-contrast and simultaneously acquired absorption-based 3D-datasets were manually matched with corresponding histological slices. The visibility of diagnostically valuable features was assessed in comparison with histology as the gold-standard.
Results
In all cases, matching of grating-based phase-contrast CT images and histology was successfully completed. Grating-based phase-contrast CT showed greatly improved differentiation of fine structures and provided accurate depiction of strands of fibrous tissue within the fibroadenomas as well as of the diagnostically valuable dilated, branched ductuli of the fibroadenomas. A clear demarcation of tumor boundaries in all cases was provided by phase- but not absorption-contrast CT.
Conclusions
Pending successful translation of the technology to a clinical setting and considerable reduction of the required dose, the data presented here suggest that grating-based phase-contrast CT may be used as a supplementary non-invasive diagnostic tool in breast diagnostics. Phase-contrast CT may thus contribute to the reduction of false positive findings and reduce the recall and core biopsy rate in population-based screening. Phase-contrast CT may further be used to assist during histopathological workup, offering a 3D view of the tumor and helping to identify diagnostically valuable tissue sections within large tumors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097101
PMCID: PMC4019647  PMID: 24824169
11.  An unusual case of primary hepatic lymphoma mimicking sarcoidosis in MRI 
Acta Radiologica Short Reports  2014;3(4):2047981613493625.
Sarcoidosis is a granulomatous disease, in which liver affection is common, contrary to a primary hepatic lymphoma that is very rarely seen. On MRI both present with almost the same imaging features: hypointense in T1-weighted and hyperintense in T2-weighted sequences. Our patient with a histologically confirmed sarcoidosis in the lungs showed liver lesions that were similar to sarcoidosis manifestations of the liver. Due to size, progression and overlapping features with secondary malignant liver lesions within an interval of 5 months, a biopsy was conducted and confirmed a primary hepatic lymphoma with diffuse large b-cells. Thus, we would recommend performing a biopsy in ambiguous lesions with indistinguishable characteristics and progression within a short follow-up interval.
doi:10.1177/2047981613493625
PMCID: PMC4184379  PMID: 25298864
Hepatic MRI; primary hepatic lymphoma; sarcoidosis
12.  Neural correlates of moral judgments in first- and third-person perspectives: implications for neuroethics and beyond 
BMC Neuroscience  2014;15:39.
Background
There appears to be an inconsistency in experimental paradigms used in fMRI research on moral judgments. As stimuli, moral dilemmas or moral statements/ pictures that induce emotional reactions are usually employed; a main difference between these stimuli is the perspective of the participants reflecting first-person (moral dilemmas) or third-person perspective (moral reactions). The present study employed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in order to investigate the neural correlates of moral judgments in either first- or third-person perspective.
Results
Our results indicate that different neural mechanisms appear to be involved in these perspectives. Although conjunction analysis revealed common activation in the anterior medial prefrontal cortex, third person-perspective elicited unique activations in hippocampus and visual cortex. The common activation can be explained by the role the anterior medial prefrontal cortex may play in integrating different information types and also by its involvement in theory of mind. Our results also indicate that the so-called "actor-observer bias" affects moral evaluation in the third-person perspective, possibly due to the involvement of the hippocampus. We suggest two possible ways in which the hippocampus may support the process of moral judgment: by the engagement of episodic memory and its role in understanding the behaviors and emotions of others.
Conclusion
We posit that these findings demonstrate that first or third person perspectives in moral cognition involve distinct neural processes, that are important to different aspects of moral judgments. These  results are important to a deepened understanding of neural correlates of moral cognition—the so-called “first tradition” of neuroethics, with the caveat that any results must be interpreted and employed with prudence, so as to heed neuroethics “second tradition” that sustains the pragmatic evaluation of outcomes, capabilities and limitations of neuroscientific techniques and technologies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2202-15-39
PMCID: PMC3991864  PMID: 24742205
fMRI; Moral judgment; Perspective; "actor-observer bias"; Anterior medial prefrontal cortex; Precuneus; Hippocampus; Theory of mind; Neuroethics
13.  Determination of Split Renal Function Using Dynamic CT-Angiography: Preliminary Results 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91774.
Objectives
To determine the feasibility of a dynamic CT angiography-protocol with regard to simultaneous assessment of renal anatomy and function.
Methods
7 healthy potential kidney donors (58±7 years) underwent a dynamic computed tomography angiography (CTA) using a 128-slice CT-scanner with continuous bi-directional table movement, allowing the coverage of a scan range of 18 cm within 1.75 sec. Twelve scans of the kidneys (n = 14) were acquired every 3.5 seconds with the aim to simultaneously obtain CTA and renal function data. Image quality was assessed quantitatively (HU-measurements) and qualitatively (grade 1–4, 1 = best). The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was calculated by a modified Patlak method and compared with the split renal function obtained with renal scintigraphy.
Results
Mean maximum attenuation was 464±58 HU, 435±48 HU and 277±29 HU in the aorta, renal arteries, and renal veins, respectively. The abdominal aorta and all renal vessels were depicted excellently (grade 1.0). The image quality score for cortex differentiation was 1.6±0.49, for the renal parenchyma 2.4±0.49. GFR obtained from dynamic CTA correlated well with renal scintigraphy with a correlation coefficient of r = 0.84; P = 0.0002 (n = 14). The average absolute deviation was 1.6 mL/min. The average effective dose was 8.96 mSv.
Conclusion
Comprehensive assessment of renal anatomy and function is feasible using a single dynamic CT angiography examination. The proposed protocol may help to improve management in case of asymmetric kidney function as well as to simplify evaluation of potential living kidney donors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091774
PMCID: PMC3950217  PMID: 24618919
14.  Non-Contrast-Enhanced MR Angiography at 3 Tesla in Patients with Advanced Peripheral Arterial Occlusive Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91078.
Purpose
The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic performance of ECG-gated non-contrast-enhanced quiescent interval single-shot (QISS) magnetic resonance angiography at a magnetic field strength of 3 Tesla in patients with advanced peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD).
Method and Materials
A total of 21 consecutive patients with advanced PAOD (Fontaine stage IIb and higher) referred for peripheral magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) were included. Imaging was performed on a 3 T whole body MR. Image quality and stenosis diameter were evaluated in comparison to contrast-enhanced continuous table and TWIST MRA (CE-MRA) as standard of reference. QISS images were acquired with a thickness of 1.5 mm each (high-resolution QISS, HR-QISS). Two blinded readers rated the image quality and the degree of stenosis for both HR-QISS and CE-MRA in 26 predefined arterial vessel segments on 5-point Likert scales.
Results
With CE-MRA as the reference standard, HR-QISS showed high sensitivity (94.1%), specificity (97.8%), positive (95.1%), and negative predictive value (97.2%) for the detection of significant (≥50%) stenosis. Interreader agreement for stenosis assessment of both HR-QISS and CE-MRA was excellent (κ-values of 0.951 and 0.962, respectively). As compared to CR-MRA, image quality of HR-QISS was significantly lower for the distal aorta, the femoral and iliac arteries (each with p<0.01), while no significant difference was found in the popliteal (p = 0.09) and lower leg arteries (p = 0.78).
Conclusion
Non-enhanced ECG-gated HR-QISS performs very well in subjects with severe PAOD and is a good alternative for patients with a high risk of nephrogenic systemic fibrosis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091078
PMCID: PMC3946661  PMID: 24608937
15.  Visualization, imaging and new preclinical diagnostics in radiation oncology 
Innovative strategies in cancer radiotherapy are stimulated by the growing knowledge on cellular and molecular tumor biology, tumor pathophysiology, and tumor microenvironment. In terms of tumor diagnostics and therapy monitoring, the reliable delineation of tumor boundaries and the assessment of tumor heterogeneity are increasingly complemented by the non-invasive characterization of functional and molecular processes, moving preclinical and clinical imaging from solely assessing tumor morphology towards the visualization of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Functional and molecular imaging techniques allow for the non-invasive characterization of tissues in vivo, using different modalities, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, positron emission tomography (PET) and optical imaging (OI). With novel therapeutic concepts combining optimized radiotherapy with molecularly targeted agents focusing on tumor cell proliferation, angiogenesis, and cell death, the non-invasive assessment of tumor microcirculation and tissue water diffusion, together with strategies for imaging the mechanisms of cellular injury and repair is of particular interest. Characterizing the tumor microenvironment prior to and in response to irradiation will help to optimize the outcome of radiotherapy. These novel concepts of personalized multi-modal cancer therapy require careful pre-treatment stratification as well as a timely and efficient therapy monitoring to maximize patient benefit on an individual basis. Functional and molecular imaging techniques are key in this regard to open novel opportunities for exploring and understanding the underlying mechanisms with the perspective to optimize therapeutic concepts and translate them into a personalized form of radiotherapy in the near future.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-9-3
PMCID: PMC3903445  PMID: 24387195
Radiation oncology; Molecular imaging; Functional imaging; Preclinical models
16.  Sadness is unique: neural processing of emotions in speech prosody in musicians and non-musicians 
Musical training has been shown to have positive effects on several aspects of speech processing, however, the effects of musical training on the neural processing of speech prosody conveying distinct emotions are yet to be better understood. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether the neural responses to speech prosody conveying happiness, sadness, and fear differ between musicians and non-musicians. Differences in processing of emotional speech prosody between the two groups were only observed when sadness was expressed. Musicians showed increased activation in the middle frontal gyrus, the anterior medial prefrontal cortex, the posterior cingulate cortex and the retrosplenial cortex. Our results suggest an increased sensitivity of emotional processing in musicians with respect to sadness expressed in speech, possibly reflecting empathic processes.
doi:10.3389/fnhum.2014.01049
PMCID: PMC4311618
functional magnetic resonance imaging; language processing; prosody; basic emotions; musical training; temporal processing
17.  Regorafenib Effects on Human Colon Carcinoma Xenografts Monitored by Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Computed Tomography with Immunohistochemical Validation 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e76009.
Objective
To investigate dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography for monitoring the effects of regorafenib on experimental colon carcinomas in rats by quantitative assessments of tumor microcirculation parameters with immunohistochemical validation.
Materials and Methods
Colon carcinoma xenografts (HT-29) implanted subcutaneously in female athymic rats (n = 15) were imaged at baseline and after a one-week treatment with regorafenib by dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography (128-slice dual-source computed tomography). The therapy group (n = 7) received regorafenib daily (10 mg/kg bodyweight). Quantitative parameters of tumor microcirculation (plasma flow, mL/100 mL/min), endothelial permeability (PS, mL/100 mL/min), and tumor vascularity (plasma volume, %) were calculated using a 2-compartment uptake model. Dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography parameters were validated with immunohistochemical assessments of tumor microvascular density (CD-31), tumor cell apoptosis (TUNEL), and proliferation (Ki-67).
Results
Regorafenib suppressed tumor vascularity (15.7±5.3 to 5.5±3.5%; p<0.05) and tumor perfusion (12.8±2.3 to 8.8±2.9 mL/100 mL/min; p = 0.063). Significantly lower microvascular density was observed in the therapy group (CD-31; 48±10 vs. 113±25, p<0.05). In regorafenib-treated tumors, significantly more apoptotic cells (TUNEL; 11844±2927 vs. 5097±3463, p<0.05) were observed. Dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography tumor perfusion and tumor vascularity correlated significantly (p<0.05) with microvascular density (CD-31; r = 0.84 and 0.66) and inversely with apoptosis (TUNEL; r = −0.66 and −0.71).
Conclusions
Regorafenib significantly suppressed tumor vascularity (plasma volume) quantified by dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography in experimental colon carcinomas in rats with good-to-moderate correlations to an immunohistochemical gold standard. Tumor response biomarkers assessed by dynamic contrast-enhanced computed tomography may be a promising future approach to a more personalized and targeted cancer therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076009
PMCID: PMC3786893  PMID: 24098755
18.  Translation of Atherosclerotic Plaque Phase-Contrast CT Imaging from Synchrotron Radiation to a Conventional Lab-Based X-Ray Source 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73513.
Objectives
Phase-contrast imaging is a novel X-ray based technique that provides enhanced soft tissue contrast. The aim of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of visualizing human carotid arteries by grating-based phase-contrast tomography (PC-CT) at two different experimental set-ups: (i) applying synchrotron radiation and (ii) using a conventional X-ray tube.
Materials and Methods
Five ex-vivo carotid artery specimens were examined with PC-CT either at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility using a monochromatic X-ray beam (2 specimens; 23 keV; pixel size 5.4 µm), or at a laboratory set-up on a conventional X-ray tube (3 specimens; 35-40 kVp; 70 mA; pixel size 100 µm). Tomographic images were reconstructed and compared to histopathology. Two independent readers determined vessel dimensions and one reader determined signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) between PC-CT and absorption images.
Results
In total, 51 sections were included in the analysis. Images from both set-ups provided sufficient contrast to differentiate individual vessel layers. All PCI-based measurements strongly predicted but significantly overestimated lumen, intima and vessel wall area for both the synchrotron and the laboratory-based measurements as compared with histology (all p<0.001 with slope >0.53 per mm2, 95%-CI: 0.35 to 0.70). Although synchrotron-based images were characterized by higher SNRs than laboratory-based images; both PC-CT set-ups had superior SNRs compared to corresponding conventional absorption-based images (p<0.001). Inter-reader reproducibility was excellent (ICCs >0.98 and >0.84 for synchrotron and for laboratory-based measurements; respectively).
Conclusion
Experimental PC-CT of carotid specimens is feasible with both synchrotron and conventional X-ray sources, producing high-resolution images suitable for vessel characterization and atherosclerosis research.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073513
PMCID: PMC3767700  PMID: 24039969
19.  The Big Picture: Evidence Base and Current Trials in Cardiac CT 
Current Radiology Reports  2013;1(4):246-254.
Cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) has technically matured into a robust imaging modality for various cardiac disorders. Whereas early trials focused on assessment of the efficacy of CCTA in comparison with established recommended methods, current research efforts focus on the effectiveness of the technique in specific clinical scenarios. In this article, we provide an overview of recent technology advances, describe major clinical scenarios in which CCTA has been evaluated, and detail pertinent evidence from completed or ongoing clinical trials, including its use to investigate acute chest pain, its use among patients with stable chest pain syndrome, and its prognostic value for the occurrence of cardiovascular events.
doi:10.1007/s40134-013-0022-z
PMCID: PMC4034169  PMID: 24883235
Cardiac CT; Acute coronary syndrome; Stable coronary artery disease; Prognosis; Clinical trials
20.  Convergent Findings of Altered Functional and Structural Brain Connectivity in Individuals with High Functioning Autism: A Multimodal MRI Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67329.
Brain tissue changes in autism spectrum disorders seem to be rather subtle and widespread than anatomically distinct. Therefore a multimodal, whole brain imaging technique appears to be an appropriate approach to investigate whether alterations in white and gray matter integrity relate to consistent changes in functional resting state connectivity in individuals with high functioning autism (HFA). We applied diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (fcMRI) to assess differences in brain structure and function between 12 individuals with HFA (mean age 35.5, SD 11.4, 9 male) and 12 healthy controls (mean age 33.3, SD 9.0, 8 male). Psychological measures of empathy and emotionality were obtained and correlated with the most significant DTI, VBM and fcMRI findings. We found three regions of convergent structural and functional differences between HFA participants and controls. The right temporo-parietal junction area and the left frontal lobe showed decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) values along with decreased functional connectivity and a trend towards decreased gray matter volume. The bilateral superior temporal gyrus displayed significantly decreased functional connectivity that was accompanied by the strongest trend of gray matter volume decrease in the temporal lobe of HFA individuals. FA decrease in the right temporo-parietal region was correlated with psychological measurements of decreased emotionality. In conclusion, our results indicate common sites of structural and functional alterations in higher order association cortex areas and may therefore provide multimodal imaging support to the long-standing hypothesis of autism as a disorder of impaired higher-order multisensory integration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0067329
PMCID: PMC3688993  PMID: 23825652
21.  Comparison of symptomatic and asymptomatic atherosclerotic carotid plaques using parallel imaging and 3 T black-blood in vivo CMR 
Background
To determine if black-blood 3 T cardiovascular magnetic resonance (bb-CMR) can depict differences between symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic plaques in acute ischemic stroke patients.
Methods
In this prospective monocentric observational study 34 patients (24 males; 70 ±9.3 years) with symptomatic carotid disease defined as ischemic brain lesions in one internal carotid artery territory on diffusion weighted images underwent a carotid bb-CMR at 3 T with fat-saturated pre- and post-contrast T1w-, PDw-, T2w- and TOF images using surface coils and Parallel Imaging techniques (PAT factor = 2) within 10 days after symptom onset. All patients underwent extensive clinical workup (lab, brain MR, duplex sonography, 24-hour ECG, transesophageal echocardiography) to exclude other causes of ischemic stroke. Prevalence of American Heart Association lesion type VI (AHA-LT6), status of the fibrous cap, presence of hemorrhage/thrombus and area measurements of calcification, necrotic core and hemorrhage were determined in both carotid arteries in consensus by two reviewers who were blinded to clinical information. McNemar and Wilcoxon's signed rank tests were use for statistical comparison. A p-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results
Symptomatic plaques showed a higher prevalence of AHA-LT6 (67.7% vs. 11.8%; p < 0.001; odds ratio = 12.5), ruptured fibrous caps (44.1% vs. 2.9%; p < 0.001; odds ratio = 15.0), juxtaluminal thrombus (26.5 vs. 0%; p < 0.01; odds ratio = 7.3) and intraplaque hemorrhage (58.6% vs. 11.8%; p = 0.01; odds ratio = 3.8). Necrotic core and hemorrhage areas were greater in symptomatic plaques (14.1 mm2 vs. 5.5 mm2 and 13.6 mm2 vs. 5.3 mm2; p < 0.01, respectively).
Conclusion
3 T bb-CMR is able to differentiate between symptomatic and asymptomatic carotid plaques, demonstrating the potential of bb-CMR to differentiate between stable and vulnerable lesions and ultimately to identify patients with low versus high risk for cardiovascular complications. Best predictors of the symptomatic side were a ruptured fibrous cap, AHA-LT 6, juxtaluminal hemorrhage/thrombus, and intraplaque hemorrhage.
doi:10.1186/1532-429X-15-44
PMCID: PMC3693990  PMID: 23705576
Plaque imaging; Cardiovascular MR; Ischemic stroke; Vulnerable plaque; Atherosclerosis
22.  Diagnosing and Mapping Pulmonary Emphysema on X-Ray Projection Images: Incremental Value of Grating-Based X-Ray Dark-Field Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59526.
Purpose
To assess whether grating-based X-ray dark-field imaging can increase the sensitivity of X-ray projection images in the diagnosis of pulmonary emphysema and allow for a more accurate assessment of emphysema distribution.
Materials and Methods
Lungs from three mice with pulmonary emphysema and three healthy mice were imaged ex vivo using a laser-driven compact synchrotron X-ray source. Median signal intensities of transmission (T), dark-field (V) and a combined parameter (normalized scatter) were compared between emphysema and control group. To determine the diagnostic value of each parameter in differentiating between healthy and emphysematous lung tissue, a receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) curve analysis was performed both on a per-pixel and a per-individual basis. Parametric maps of emphysema distribution were generated using transmission, dark-field and normalized scatter signal and correlated with histopathology.
Results
Transmission values relative to water were higher for emphysematous lungs than for control lungs (1.11 vs. 1.06, p<0.001). There was no difference in median dark-field signal intensities between both groups (0.66 vs. 0.66). Median normalized scatter was significantly lower in the emphysematous lungs compared to controls (4.9 vs. 10.8, p<0.001), and was the best parameter for differentiation of healthy vs. emphysematous lung tissue. In a per-pixel analysis, the area under the ROC curve (AUC) for the normalized scatter value was significantly higher than for transmission (0.86 vs. 0.78, p<0.001) and dark-field value (0.86 vs. 0.52, p<0.001) alone. Normalized scatter showed very high sensitivity for a wide range of specificity values (94% sensitivity at 75% specificity). Using the normalized scatter signal to display the regional distribution of emphysema provides color-coded parametric maps, which show the best correlation with histopathology.
Conclusion
In a murine model, the complementary information provided by X-ray transmission and dark-field images adds incremental diagnostic value in detecting pulmonary emphysema and visualizing its regional distribution as compared to conventional X-ray projections.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059526
PMCID: PMC3608711  PMID: 23555692
23.  Micro-RNAs as Potential New Molecular Biomarkers in Oncology: Have They Reached Relevance for the Clinical Imaging Sciences? 
Theranostics  2013;3(12):943-952.
Minimally invasive biomarkers for early cancer detection and monitoring of personalized therapies are of high importance to further improve prognosis in oncological disease. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small regulatory RNAs in humans and play a key role in carcinogenesis. In recent years they have emerged as promising biomarkers in oncology. miRNA profiling has demonstrated its capacity for sub-classifying tumors and monitoring of therapeutic effects. Different expression profiles of miRNAs in cancer and the stability of circulating miRNAs potentially provide a clinically accessible molecular monitoring tool of malignant tissues and its response to therapies. Clinical imaging including the modalities PET/CT and MRI is well established for characterizing tumor tissue and sub-classifying morphological, metabolic or vascular treatment response in cancer. Sophisticated clinical imaging biomarkers for cancer detection and monitoring should now been correlatively applied to further validate the potential of miRNAs as oncologic biomarkers for the clinic.
doi:10.7150/thno.7445
PMCID: PMC3881096  PMID: 24396505
MicroRNA; Treatment Monitoring; Personalized Therapy; Cancer Imaging; Biomarker
24.  Characteristics of carotid atherosclerotic plaques of chronic lipid apheresis patients as assessed by In Vivo High-Resolution CMR - a comparative analysis 
Background
Components of carotid atherosclerotic plaques can reliably be identified and quantified using high resolution in vivo 3-Tesla CMR. It is suspected that lipid apheresis therapy in addition to lowering serum lipid levels also has an influence on development and progression of atherosclerotic plaques. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of chronic lipid apheresis (LA) on the composition of atherosclerotic carotid plaques.
Methods
32 arteries of 16 patients during chronic LA-therapy with carotid plaques and stenosis of 1–80% were matched according to degree of stenosis with 32 patients, who had recently suffered an ischemic stroke. Of these patients only the asymptomatic carotid artery was analyzed. All patients underwent black-blood 3 T CMR of the carotids using parallel imaging and dedicated surface coils. Cardiovascular risk factors were recorded. Morphology and composition of carotid plaques were evaluated. For statistical evaluation Fisher’s Exact and unpaired t-test were used. A p-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results
Patients in the LA-group were younger (63.5 vs. 73.9. years, p<0.05), had a higher prevalence of hypercholesterolemia and of established coronary heart disease in patients and in first-degree relatives (p<0.05, respectively). LA-patients had smaller maximum wall areas (49.7 vs. 59.6mm2, p<0.05), showed lower prevalence of lipid cores (28.1% vs. 56.3%, p<0.05) and the lipid content was smaller than in the control group (5.0 vs. 11.6%, p<0.05). Minimum lumen areas and maximum total vessel areas did not differ significantly between both groups.
Conclusion
Results of this study suggest that, despite a severer risk profile for cardiovascular complications in LA-patients, chronic LA is associated with significantly lower lipid content in carotid plaques compared to plaques of patients without LA with similar degrees of stenosis, which is characteristic of clinically stable plaques.
doi:10.1186/1532-429X-14-80
PMCID: PMC3524023  PMID: 23194143
Atherosclerosis; Lipid apheresis; Cardiovascular MR; Plaque imaging; Stroke; Cardiovascular disease
25.  Numerical comparison of X-ray differential phase contrast and attenuation contrast 
Biomedical Optics Express  2012;3(6):1141-1148.
We present a numerical tool to compare directly the contrast-to-noise-ratio (CNR) of the attenuation- and differential phase-contrast signals available from grating-based X-ray imaging for single radiographs. The attenuation projection is differentiated to bring it into a modality comparable to the differential phase projection using a Gaussian derivative filter. A Relative Contrast Gain (RCG) is then defined as the ratio of the CNR of image values in a region of interest (ROI) in the differential phase projection to the CNR of image values in the same ROI in the differential attenuation projection. We apply the method on experimental data of human breast tissue acquired using a grating interferometer to compare the two contrast modes for two regions of interest differing in the type of tissue. Our results indicate that the proposed method can be used as a local estimate of the spatial distribution of the ratio δ/β, i.e., real and imaginary part of the complex refractive index, across a sample.
doi:10.1364/BOE.3.001141
PMCID: PMC3370957  PMID: 22741063
(110.7440) X-ray imaging; (100.2960) Image analysis; (100.2000) Digital image processing

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