Cardiac magnetic resonance T2 mapping in the monitoring and follow-up of acute cardiac transplant rejection: A pilot study

Asad A. Usman, Kirsi Taimen, Marie Wasielewski, Jennifer McDonald, Saurabh Shah, Shivraman Giri, William Cotts, Edwin McGee, Robert Gordon, Jeremy D. Collins, Michael Markl, James C. Carr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

92 Scopus citations


Background - Acute rejection is a major factor impacting survival in the first 12 months after cardiac transplantation. Transplant monitoring requires invasive techniques. Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR), noninvasive testing, has been used in monitoring heart transplants. Prolonged T2 relaxation has been related to transplant edema and possibly rejection. We hypothesize that prolonged T2 reflects transplant rejection and that quantitative T2 mapping will concur with the pathological and clinical findings of acute rejection. Methods and Results - Patients were recruited within the first year after transplantation. Biopsies were graded according to the International Society for Heart Lung Transplant system for cellular rejection with immunohistochemistry for humoral rejection. Rejection was also considered if patients presented with signs and symptoms of hemodynamic compromise without biopsy evidence of rejection who subsequently improved with treatment. Patients underwent a novel single-shot T2-prepared steady-state free precession 4-chamber and 3 short axis sequences and regions of interest were drawn overlying T2 maps by 2 independent blinded reviewers. A total of 74 (68 analyzable) CMRs T2 maps in 53 patients were performed. There were 4 cellular, 2 humoral, and 2 hemodynamic rejection cases. The average T2 relaxation time for grade 0R (n=46) and grade 1R (n=17) was 52.5±2.2 and 53.1±3.3 ms (mean±SD), respectively. The average T2 relaxation for grade 2R (n=3) was 59.6±3.1 ms and 3R (n=1) was 60.3 ms (all P value <0.05 compared with controls). The T2 average in humoral rejection cases (n=2) was 59.2±3.3 ms and the hemodynamic rejection (n=2) was 61.1±1.8 ms (P<0.05 versus controls). The average T2 relaxation time for all-cause rejection versus no rejection is 60.1±2.1 versus 52.8±2.7 ms (P<0.05). All rejection cases were rescanned 2.5 months after treatment and demonstrated T2 normalization with average of 51.4±1.6 ms. No difference was found in ventricular function between nonrejection and rejection patients, except in ventricular mass 107.8±10.3 versus 127.5±10.4 g (P < 0.05). Conclusions - Quantitative T2 mapping offers a novel noninvasive tool for transplant monitoring, and these initial findings suggest potential use in characterizing rejections. Given the limited numbers, a larger multi-institution study may help elucidate the benefits of T2 mapping as an adjunctive tool in routine monitoring of cardiac transplants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-790
Number of pages9
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Diagnosis
  • Edema
  • Heart failure
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Rejection
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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