Noninvasive Immunometabolic Cardiac Inflammation Imaging Using Hyperpolarized Magnetic Resonance

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Current cardiovascular clinical imaging techniques offer only limited assessment of innate immune cell-driven inflammation, which is a potential therapeutic target in myocardial infarction (MI) and other diseases. Hyperpolarized magnetic resonance (MR) is an emerging imaging technology that generates contrast agents with 10- to 20 000-fold improvements in MR signal, enabling cardiac metabolite mapping.


To determine whether hyperpolarized MR using [1-13C]pyruvate can assess the local cardiac inflammatory response after MI.

Methods and Results:

We performed hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate MR studies in small and large animal models of MI and in macrophage-like cell lines and measured the resulting [1-13C]lactate signals. MI caused intense [1-13C]lactate signal in healing myocardial segments at both day 3 and 7 after rodent MI, which was normalized at both time points after monocyte/macrophage depletion. A near-identical [1-13C]lactate signature was also seen at day 7 after experimental MI in pigs. Hyperpolarized [1-13C]pyruvate MR spectroscopy in macrophage-like cell suspensions demonstrated that macrophage activation and polarization with lipopolysaccharide almost doubled hyperpolarized lactate label flux rates in vitro; blockade of glycolysis with 2-deoxyglucose in activated cells normalized lactate label flux rates and markedly inhibited the production of key proinflammatory cytokines. Systemic administration of 2-deoxyglucose after rodent MI normalized the hyperpolarized [1-13C]lactate signal in healing myocardial segments at day 3 and also caused dose-dependent improvement in IL (interleukin)-1β expression in infarct tissue without impairing the production of key reparative cytokines. Cine MRI demonstrated improvements in systolic function in 2-DG (2-deoxyglucose)–treated rats at 3 months.


Hyperpolarized MR using [1-13C]pyruvate provides a novel method for the assessment of innate immune cell-driven inflammation in the heart after MI, with broad potential applicability across other cardiovascular disease states and suitability for early clinical translation.

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