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1.  Steady-State Equilibrium Phase Inversion Recovery ON-resonant Water Suppression (IRON) Magnetic Resonance Angiography in Conjunction with Superparamagnetic Nanoparticles. A Robust Technique for Imaging within a Wide Range of Contrast Agent Dosages 
To investigate the ability of inversion recovery ON-resonant water suppression (IRON) in conjunction with P904 (superparamagnetic nanoparticles which consisting of a maghemite core coated with a low-molecular-weight amino-alcohol derivative of glucose) to perform steady-state equilibrium phase magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) over a wide dose range.
Materials and Methods
Experiments were approved by the institutional animal care committee. Rabbits (n=12) were imaged at baseline and serially after the administration of 10 incremental dosages of 0.57–5.7 mgFe/Kg P904. Conventional T1-weighted and IRON MRA were obtained on a clinical 1.5-T scanner to image the thoracic and abdominal aorta, and peripheral vessels. Contrast-to-noise ratios (CNR) and vessel sharpness were quantified.
Using IRON MRA, CNR and vessel sharpness progressively increased with incremental dosages of the contrast agent P904, exhibiting constantly higher contrast values than T1-weighted MRA over a very wide range of contrast agent doses (CNR of 18.8±5.6 for IRON versus 11.1±2.8 for T1-weighted MRA at 1.71 mgFe/kg, p=0.02 and 19.8±5.9 for IRON versus −0.8±1.4 for T1-weighted MRA at 3.99 mgFe/kg, p=0.0002). Similar results were obtained for vessel sharpness in peripheral vessels, (Vessel sharpness of 46.76±6.48% for IRON versus 33.20±3.53% for T1-weighted MRA at 1.71 mgFe/Kg, p=0.002, and of 48.66±5.50% for IRON versus 19.00±7.41% for T1-weighted MRA at 3.99 mgFe/Kg, p=0.003).
Our study suggests that quantitative CNR and vessel sharpness after the injection of P904 are consistently higher for IRON MRA when compared to conventional T1-weighted MRA. These findings apply for a wide range of contrast agent dosages.
PMCID: PMC3657577  PMID: 23418107
2.  Direct in vitro comparison of six 3D positive contrast methods for susceptibility marker imaging 
To compare different techniques for positive contrast imaging of susceptibility markers with MRI for 3D visualization. As several different techniques have been reported, the choice of the suitable method depends on its properties with regard to the amount of positive contrast and the desired background suppression, as well as other imaging constraints needed for a specific application.
Materials and methods
Six different positive contrast techniques are investigated for their ability to image at 3T a single susceptibility marker in vitro. The white marker method (WM), susceptibility gradient mapping (SGM), inversion recovery with on-resonant water suppression (IRON), frequency selective excitation (FSX), fast low flip-angle positive contrast SSFP (FLAPS), and iterative decomposition of water and fat with echo asymmetry and least-squares estimation (IDEAL) were implemented and investigated.
The different methods were compared with respect to the volume of positive contrast, the product of volume and signal intensity, imaging time, and the level of background suppression. Quantitative results are provided and strengths and weaknesses of the different approaches are discussed.
The appropriate choice of positive contrast imaging technique depends on the desired level of background suppression, acquisition speed, and robustness against artifacts, for which in vitro comparative data is now available.
PMCID: PMC3620818  PMID: 23281151
susceptibility imaging; off resonance; positive contrast
3.  Regional Coronary Endothelial Function is Closely Related to Local Early Coronary Atherosclerosis in Patients with Mild Coronary Artery Disease: A Pilot Study 
Coronary endothelial function (endoFx) is abnormal in patients with established coronary artery disease (CAD) and was recently shown by MRI to relate to the severity of luminal stenosis. Recent advances in MRI now allow the non-invasive assessment of both anatomic and functional (endoFx) changes that previously required invasive studies. We tested the hypothesis that abnormal coronary endoFx is related to measures of early atherosclerosis such as increased coronary wall thickness (CWT).
Methods and Results
Seventeen arteries in fourteen healthy adults and seventeen arteries in fourteen patients with non-obstructive CAD were studied. To measure endoFx, coronary MRI was performed before and during isometric handgrip exercise, an endothelial-dependent stressor and changes in coronary cross-sectional area (CSA) and flow were measured. Black blood imaging was performed to quantify CWT and other indices of arterial remodeling. The mean stress-induced change in CSA was significantly higher in healthy adults (13.5%±12.8%, mean±SD, n=17) than in those with mildly diseased arteries (-2.2±6.8%, p<0.0001, n=17). Mean CWT was lower in healthy subjects (0.9±0.2mm) than in CAD patients (1.4±0.3mm, p<0.0001). In contrast to healthy subjects, stress-induced changes in CSA, a measure of coronary endoFx, correlated inversely with CWT in CAD patients (r= -0.73, p=0.0008).
There is an inverse relationship between coronary endothelial function and local CWT in CAD patients but not in healthy adults. These findings demonstrate that local endothelial-dependent functional changes are related to the extent of early anatomic atherosclerosis in mildly diseased arteries. This combined MRI approach enables the anatomic and functional investigation of early coronary disease.
PMCID: PMC3665274  PMID: 22492483
coronary disease; endothelium; magnetic resonance imaging
4.  Non-Invasive Detection of Coronary Endothelial Response to Sequential Handgrip Exercise in Coronary Artery Disease Patients and Healthy Adults 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58047.
Our objective is to test the hypothesis that coronary endothelial function (CorEndoFx) does not change with repeated isometric handgrip (IHG) stress in CAD patients or healthy subjects.
Coronary responses to endothelial-dependent stressors are important measures of vascular risk that can change in response to environmental stimuli or pharmacologic interventions. The evaluation of the effect of an acute intervention on endothelial response is only valid if the measurement does not change significantly in the short term under normal conditions. Using 3.0 Tesla (T) MRI, we non-invasively compared two coronary artery endothelial function measurements separated by a ten minute interval in healthy subjects and patients with coronary artery disease (CAD).
Twenty healthy adult subjects and 12 CAD patients were studied on a commercial 3.0 T whole-body MR imaging system. Coronary cross-sectional area (CSA), peak diastolic coronary flow velocity (PDFV) and blood-flow were quantified before and during continuous IHG stress, an endothelial-dependent stressor. The IHG exercise with imaging was repeated after a 10 minute recovery period.
In healthy adults, coronary artery CSA changes and blood-flow increases did not differ between the first and second stresses (mean % change ±SEM, first vs. second stress CSA: 14.8%±3.3% vs. 17.8%±3.6%, p = 0.24; PDFV: 27.5%±4.9% vs. 24.2%±4.5%, p = 0.54; blood-flow: 44.3%±8.3 vs. 44.8%±8.1, p = 0.84). The coronary vasoreactive responses in the CAD patients also did not differ between the first and second stresses (mean % change ±SEM, first stress vs. second stress: CSA: −6.4%±2.0% vs. −5.0%±2.4%, p = 0.22; PDFV: −4.0%±4.6% vs. −4.2%±5.3%, p = 0.83; blood-flow: −9.7%±5.1% vs. −8.7%±6.3%, p = 0.38).
MRI measures of CorEndoFx are unchanged during repeated isometric handgrip exercise tests in CAD patients and healthy adults. These findings demonstrate the repeatability of noninvasive 3T MRI assessment of CorEndoFx and support its use in future studies designed to determine the effects of acute interventions on coronary vasoreactivity.
PMCID: PMC3594224  PMID: 23536782
5.  Delayed Contrast-Enhanced MRI of the Coronary Artery Wall in Takayasu Arteritis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50655.
Takayasu arteritis (TA) is a rare form of chronic inflammatory granulomatous arteritis of the aorta and its major branches. Late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has demonstrated its value for the detection of vessel wall alterations in TA. The aim of this study was to assess LGE of the coronary artery wall in patients with TA compared to patients with stable CAD.
We enrolled 9 patients (8 female, average age 46±13 years) with proven TA. In the CAD group 9 patients participated (8 male, average age 65±10 years). Studies were performed on a commercial 3T whole-body MR imaging system (Achieva; Philips, Best, The Netherlands) using a 3D inversion prepared navigator gated spoiled gradient-echo sequence, which was repeated 34–45 minutes after low-dose gadolinium administration.
No coronary vessel wall enhancement was observed prior to contrast in either group. Post contrast, coronary LGE on IR scans was detected in 28 of 50 segments (56%) seen on T2-Prep scans in TA and in 25 of 57 segments (44%) in CAD patients. LGE quantitative assessment of coronary artery vessel wall CNR post contrast revealed no significant differences between the two groups (CNR in TA: 6.0±2.4 and 7.3±2.5 in CAD; p = 0.474).
Our findings suggest that LGE of the coronary artery wall seems to be common in patients with TA and similarly pronounced as in CAD patients. The observed coronary LGE seems to be rather unspecific, and differentiation between coronary vessel wall fibrosis and inflammation still remains unclear.
PMCID: PMC3517571  PMID: 23236382
6.  Practical Signal-to-Noise Ratio Quantification for Sensitivity Encoding: Application to Coronary MRA 
To develop and evaluate a practical method for the quantification of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) on coronary magnetic resonance angiograms (MRA) acquired with parallel imaging.
Materials and Methods
To quantify the spatially varying noise due to parallel imaging reconstruction, a new method has been implemented incorporating image data acquisition followed by a fast noise scan during which radiofrequency pulses, cardiac triggering and navigator gating are disabled. The performance of this method was evaluated in a phantom study where SNR measurements were compared to those of a reference standard (multiple repetitions). Subsequently, SNR of myocardium and posterior skeletal muscle was determined on in vivo human coronary MRA.
In a phantom, the SNR measured using the proposed method deviated less than 10.1% from the reference method for small geometry factors (<=2). In-vivo, the noise scan for a 10 minutes coronary MRA acquisition was acquired in 30s. Higher signal and lower SNR, due to spatially varying noise, were found in myocardium compared to posterior skeletal muscle.
SNR quantification based on a fast noise scan is a validated and easy-to-use method when applied to 3D coronary MRA obtained with parallel imaging as long as the geometry factor remains low.
PMCID: PMC3098458  PMID: 21591001
SNR measurement; parallel imaging; coronary MRA; phased array coils; image noise
11.  On the Dual Contrast Enhancement Mechanism in Frequency Selective Inversion Recovery Magnetic Resonance Angiography (IRON-MRA) 
The susceptibility of blood changes after administration of a paramagnetic contrast agent which shortens T1. Concomitantly the resonance frequency of the blood vessels shifts in a geometry-dependent way. This frequency change may be exploited for incremental contrast generation by applying a frequency selective saturation pre-pulse prior to the imaging sequence. The dual origin of vascular enhancement depending firstly on off-resonance and secondly on T1 lowering was investigated in vitro together with the geometry dependence of the signal at 3T. First results obtained in an in vivo rabbit model are presented.
PMCID: PMC2742771  PMID: 19526511
Magnetic Resonance Angiography; Off-resonance imaging; Blood-pool contrast agent

Results 1-11 (11)