Native T1 mapping detects both acute clinical rejection and graft dysfunction in pediatric heart transplant patients

Devika P. Richmann, Nyshidha Gurijala, Jason G. Mandell, Ashish Doshi, Karin Hamman, Christopher Rossi, Avi Z. Rosenberg, Russell Cross, Joshua Kanter, John T. Berger, Laura Olivieri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is emerging as an important tool for cardiac allograft assessment. Native T1 mapping may add value in identifying rejection and in assessing graft dysfunction and myocardial fibrosis burden. We hypothesized that CMR native T1 values and features of textural analysis of T1 maps would identify acute rejection, and in a secondary analysis, correlate with markers of graft dysfunction, and with fibrosis percentage from endomyocardial biopsy (EMB). Methods: Fifty cases with simultaneous EMB, right heart catheterization, and 1.5 T CMR with breath-held T1 mapping via modified Look-Locker inversion recovery (MOLLI) in 8 short-axis slices and subsequent quantification of mean and peak native T1 values, were performed on 24 pediatric subjects. A single mid-ventricular slice was used for image texture analysis using nine gray-level co-occurrence matrix features. Digital quantification of Masson trichrome stained EMB samples established degree of fibrosis. Markers of graft dysfunction, including serum brain natriuretic peptide levels and hemodynamic measurements from echocardiography, catheterization, and CMR were collated. Subjects were divided into three groups based on degree of rejection: acute rejection requiring new therapy, mild rejection requiring increased ongoing therapy, and no rejection with no change in treatment. Statistical analysis included student’s t-test and linear regression. Results: Peak and mean T1 values were significantly associated with acute rejection, with a monotonic trend observed with increased grade of rejection. Texture analysis demonstrated greater spatial heterogeneity in T1 values, as demonstrated by energy, entropy, and variance, in cases requiring treatment. Interestingly, 2 subjects who required increased therapy despite low grade EMB results had abnormal peak T1 values. Peak T1 values also correlated with increased BNP, right-sided filling pressures, and capillary wedge pressures. There was no difference in histopathological fibrosis percentage among the 3 groups; histopathological fibrosis did not correlate with T1 values or markers of graft dysfunction. Conclusion: In pediatric heart transplant patients, native T1 values identify acute rejection requiring treatment and may identify graft dysfunction. CMR shows promise as an important tool for evaluation of cardiac grafts in children, with T1 imaging outperforming biopsy findings in the assessment of rejection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number51
JournalJournal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Cardiac magnetic resonance
  • Graft dysfunction
  • Graft rejection
  • Parametric mapping
  • Pediatric heart transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Family Practice
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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