Improved magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for cardiac fibrosis and other fibrotic diseases.Myocardial fibrosis is associated with worsening ventricular systolic function, abnormal cardiac remodeling, and increased ventricular stiffness, significantly increasing the risk of adverse cardiac outcomes. Hypertension and diabetes elicit fibrotic processes in the heart, placing a high percentage of the western world population at risk, yet the early identification of fibrotic development in high-risk patients is hindered by lack of adequate fibrosis imaging modalities. This in turn leads to increased morbidity and additional financial burden to health care services. The current standard method to assess myocardial fibrosis employs the usage of MRI coupled with intravenous infusion of Gadolinium contrast agent. However, this method suffers from considerable drawbacks including reduced sensitivity (that permits diagnosis only at advanced stages of disease), lengthy scan times and toxicity of the contrast agent, which excludes a significant subset of patient populations from diagnosis. Thus, the capacity to diagnose myocardial fibrosis in its early stages would allow successful therapeutic intervention, and may also create a platform for the non-invasive study of fibrotic development, thereby facilitating the design of targeted therapies. The current invention is comprised of a novel cardiovascular magnetic resonance method with enhanced sensitivity, without the need for contrast agent administration.
A team of researchers at the Weizmann Institute has developed a novel approach for detection of myocardial fibrosis using magnetization transfer contrast (MCT) MRI cardiac imaging technology. The method was tested in vivo on animal models of heart failure and proved highly sensitive for detection of scar tissue formation and monitoring of fibrotic development. One prominent advantage of the present technology over current cardiac imaging modalities is that it eliminates the requirement for extrinsic contrast agents, thereby circumventing potential adverse toxic side effects.