Influence of age and sex on the longitudinal relaxation time, T1, of the lung in healthy never-smokers

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As several studies have provided evidence that lung disease affects the T1 of the human lung, our purpose was to investigate the effect of age on the T1-relaxation time in the lungs of healthy never-smokers, including group difference between sexes.

Materials and Methods:

The Snapshot FLASH pulse sequence (inversion recovery with multiple gradient echo read-outs) was used to quantify lung T1 in 30 healthy never-smoking volunteers at 1.5 Tesla. Measurements were performed under breathhold of a tidal inspiration. Additionally, subjects underwent clinical MRI and pulmonary function tests. A linear regression model of T1 as a function of age and sex was tested.


The slope of lung T1 at tidal end-inspiration as a function of age was statistically different between males and females (P < 0.001). In a linear regression model of T1 as a function of age and sex, females have slope of −4.1 ms/year (95% confidence interval [CI], [−5.2, −3.0]) at P < 0.001, and males −0.064 ms/year (95% CI, [−1.2, 1.1]) at P = 0.9, with a whole model R2 = 0.83.


The observed dependencies of lung T1 on age and sex are here attributed to a previously reported difference in blood T1 between sexes, and a previously reported decrease of pulmonary blood volume with increasing age. This may have implications for the interpretation of lung T1 measurements in both healthy individuals and patients. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;43:1250–1257.

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