Assessment of therapeutic response in Crohn's disease using quantitative dynamic contrast enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) parameters: A preliminary study

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The aim of the study was to investigate dynamic contrast enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI) as a potential marker to assess the therapeutic responses of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and to determine the parameter or combination of parameters most strongly associated with changes in clinical indicators after treatment.

In 22 CD patients, DCE-MRI was performed with a 3.0T scanner. Parameters of DCE-MRI (vascular transfer constant [Ktrnas] and blood volume [BV]) in the terminal ileum were compared between before and day 90 after FMT treatment. The differences of clinical indicators (C-reactive protein [CRP], Harvey–Bradshaw index [HBI]) and DCE-MRI parameters (Ktrnas, BV) between pre- and post-treatment was calculated by Student's 2-tailed, paired t-test. The correlations between percent change of clinical indicators (ΔCRP, ΔHBI) with DCE-MRI parameters (ΔKtrnas, ΔBV) were analyzed by Pearson's correlation coefficients. A logistic regression model was used to identify the changes of DCE-MRI parameters related to the treatment outcomes. Receiver operating characteristic curves (ROCs) were generated to assess which DCE-MRI parameter showed the best accuracy for evaluation of therapeutic response.

After treatment, mean values of clinical indicators decreased significantly (CRP: 62.68 ± 31.86 vs 43.55 ± 29.63 mg/L, P = .008; HBI: 7.18 ± 2.10 vs 5.73 ± 2.33, P = 0.012). Both DCE-MRI parameters showed prominent differences before and after treatment: Ktrans (1.86 ± 0.87 vs 1.39 ± 0.83 min−1, P = .017), BV (61.02 ± 28.49 vs 41.96 ± 22.75 mL/100 g, P = .005). There were significant correlations between ΔCRP or ΔHBI and percent change of CDE-MRI parameters (ΔKtrans to ΔCRP: 0.659; ΔKtrans to ΔHBI: 0.496; ΔBV to ΔCRP: 0.442; ΔBV to ΔHBI: 0.476). Compared to ΔKtrans and ΔBV individually, the combination of both parameters performed best in assessment of therapeutic response with an area under the ROCs (AUC) of 0.948.

Ktrans and BV parameters derived from DCE-MRI have the potential to assess for therapeutic response after FMT treatment for CD. The combination of Ktrans and BV measurements improved the predictive capability compared to the individual parameters.

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