Volumetric coronary endothelial function assessment: a feasibility study exploiting stack-of-stars 3D cine MRI and image-based respiratory self-gating

Gabriele Bonanno, Robert G. Weiss, Davide Piccini, Jérôme Yerly, Sahar Soleimani, Li Pan, Xiaoming Bi, Allison G. Hays, Matthias Stuber, Michael Schär

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Abnormal coronary endothelial function (CEF), manifesting as depressed vasoreactive responses to endothelial-specific stressors, occurs early in atherosclerosis, independently predicts cardiovascular events, and responds to cardioprotective interventions. CEF is spatially heterogeneous along a coronary artery in patients with atherosclerosis, and thus recently developed and tested non-invasive 2D MRI techniques to measure CEF may not capture the extent of changes in CEF in a given coronary artery. The purpose of this study was to develop and test the first volumetric coronary 3D MRI cine method for assessing CEF along the proximal and mid-coronary arteries with isotropic spatial resolution and in free-breathing. This approach, called 3D-Stars, combines a 6 min continuous, untriggered golden-angle stack-of-stars acquisition with a novel image-based respiratory self-gating method and cardiac and respiratory motion-resolved reconstruction. The proposed respiratory self-gating method agreed well with respiratory bellows and center-of-k-space methods. In healthy subjects, 3D-Stars vessel sharpness was non-significantly different from that by conventional 2D radial in proximal segments, albeit lower in mid-portions. Importantly, 3D-Stars detected normal vasodilatation of the right coronary artery in response to endothelial-dependent isometric handgrip stress in healthy subjects. Coronary artery cross-sectional areas measured using 3D-Stars were similar to those from 2D radial MRI when similar thresholding was used. In conclusion, 3D-Stars offers good image quality and shows feasibility for non-invasively studying vasoreactivity-related lumen area changes along the proximal coronary artery in 3D during free-breathing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4589
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • 3D cine MRI
  • atherosclerosis
  • coronary endothelial function
  • golden angle
  • respiratory self-gating
  • stack-of-stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


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