Non-invasive quantitation of liver disease using multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) could refine clinical care pathways, trial design and preclinical drug development. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of multiparametric MRI in experimental models of liver disease. Liver injury was induced in rats using 4 or 12 weeks of carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) intoxication and 4 or 8 weeks on a methionine and choline deficient (MCD) diet. Liver MRI was performed using a 7.0 Tesla small animal scanner at baseline and specified timepoints after liver injury. Multiparametric liver MRI parameters [T1 mapping, T2* mapping and proton density fat fraction (PDFF)] were correlated with gold standard histopathological measures. Mean hepatic T1 increased significantly in rats treated with CCl4 for 12 weeks compared to controls [1122±78 ms versus 959±114 ms; d=162.7, 95% CI (11.92, 313.4), P=0.038] and correlated strongly with histological collagen content (rs=0.717, P=0.037). In MCD diet-treated rats, hepatic PDFF correlated strongly with histological fat content (rs=0.819, P<0.0001), steatosis grade (rs=0.850, P<0.0001) and steatohepatitis score (rs=0.818, P<0.0001). Although there was minimal histological iron, progressive fat accumulation in MCD diet-treated livers significantly shortened T2*. In preclinical models, quantitative MRI markers correlated with histopathological assessments, especially for fatty liver disease. Validation in longitudinal studies is required.This article has an associated First Person interview with the first author of the paper.
Hoy, A. M., McDonald, N., Lennen, R. J., Milanesi, M., Herlihy, A. H., Kendall, T. J., … Fallowfield, J. A. (2018). Non-invasive assessment of liver disease in rats using multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging: a feasibility study. Biology Open, 7(7), bio033910. https://doi.org/10.1242/bio.033910