Magnetic resonance assessment of iron overload by separate measurement of tissue ferritin and hemosiderin iron

Ed X. Wu, Daniel Kim, Christina L. Tosti, Haiying Tang, Jens H. Jensen, Jerry S. Cheung, Li Feng, Wing Yan Au, Shau Yin Ha, Sujit S. Sheth, Truman R. Brown, Gary M. Brittenham

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

23 Scopus citations


With transfusional iron overload, almost all the excess iron is sequestered intracellularly as rapidly mobilizable, dispersed, soluble ferritin iron, and as aggregated, insoluble hemosiderin iron for long-term storage. Established magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) indicators of tissue iron (R2, R2*) are principally influenced by hemosiderin iron and change slowly, even with intensive iron chelation. Intracellular ferritin iron is evidently in equilibrium with the low-molecular-weight cytosolic iron pool that can change rapidly with iron chelation. We have developed a new MRI method to separately measure ferritin and hemosiderin iron, based on the non-monoexponential signal decay induced by aggregated iron in multiple-spin-echo sequences. We have initially validated the method in agarose phantoms and in human liver explants and shown the feasibility of its application in patients with thalassemia major. Measurement of tissue ferritin iron is a promising new means to rapidly evaluate the effectiveness of iron-chelating regimens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCooley's Anemia
Subtitle of host publicationNinth Symposium
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781573317825
StatePublished - Aug 2010

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632


  • ferritin
  • hemosiderin
  • iron
  • magnetic resonance
  • magnetic susceptibility
  • thalassemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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