Free-Breathing Quantitative Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging in a Rat Liver Tumor Model Using Dynamic Radial T1 Mapping

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The high sensitivity to motion artifacts is a major limiting factor for applying the dynamic 3D T1-weighted gradient-echo (3D T1w GRE) technique for dynamic contrast-enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) experiments in small rodents. Dynamic quantification of the relaxation rate R1 (1/T1) presents an alternative approach to reduce these motion artifacts. In this work, an optimized 2D single-shot Look-Locker based T1 mapping technique, named GOLD, applying radial sampling in the golden-angle view order and contrast-enhancing k-space filter was evaluated for its use in free-breathing quantitative DCE-MRI of rat liver on a clinical 1.5 T MRI system.

Materials and Methods:

In vitro measurements and initial in vivo experiments in healthy rats were performed to evaluate the accuracy and resilience of the GOLD technique to motion artifacts. Unifocal hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was established in 20 male Buffalo rats. Twelve days after tumor cell implantation, animals were screened for intrahepatic tumor nodules by high-resolution T2-weighted MRI. Quantitative DCE-MRI experiments applying bolus injected gadopentetate dimeglumine were performed in 11 HCC-bearing rats using the GOLD technique. For comparison, a standard 3D T1w GRE sequence was applied in 6 additional rats.


Phantom experiments showed good agreement for T1 values measured by the GOLD method and an inversion recovery spectroscopy measurement. The in vivo experiments in healthy rats confirmed the robustness of the GOLD method in T1 value determination and its resilience to motion artifacts. Gadopentetate dimeglumine concentration (CGd) time curves determined from free-breathing GOLD-based DCE-MRI experiments of HCC-bearing rats allowed reliable and robust pharmacokinetic modeling (Ktrans, ve, lag time Td, and slow washout rate rwo) of tumor, liver, and spinal muscle. In comparison to the dynamic 3D T1w GRE, the GOLD method showed less variation and jitter in the CGd time curves and significantly increased accuracy (in terms of the goodness of fit) in the pharmacokinetic modeling. Significant differences were detected for Ktrans and ve with the 3D T1w GRE method apparently underestimating those parameters.


The GOLD technique allowed dynamic sampling of 2D axial T1 maps of the rat abdomen with 6-second temporal resolution enabling simultaneous and robust pharmacokinetic modeling of HCC, normal liver, and spinal muscle.

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