Noninvasive preclinical methods for the characterization of myocardial vascular function are crucial to an understanding of the dynamics of ischemic cardiac disease. Ischemic heart disease is associated with myocardial endothelial dysfunction, resulting in leakage of plasma albumin into the extravascular space. These features can be harnessed in a novel noninvasive three-dimensional magnetic resonance imaging method to measure fractional blood volume (fBV) and vascular permeability (permeability–surface area product, PS) using labeled albumin as a blood pool contrast agent. C57BL/6 mice were imaged before and 3 days after myocardial infarction (MI). Following the quantification of endogenous myocardial R1, the dynamics of intravenously injected albumin-based contrast agent, extravasating from permeable myocardial blood vessels, were tracked on short-axis magnetic resonance images of the entire heart. This study successfully discriminated between infarcted and remote regions at 3 days post-infarct, based on a reduced fBV and increased PS in the infarcted region. These findings were confirmed using ex vivo fluorescence imaging and histology. We have demonstrated a novel method to quantify blood volume and permeability in the infarcted myocardium, providing an imaging biomarker for the assessment of endothelial dysfunction. This method has the potential to three-dimensionally visualize subtle changes in myocardial permeability and to track endothelial function for longitudinal cardiac studies determining pathophysiological processes during infarct healing.
- magnetic resonance imaging
- myocardial infarction