MR characterization of hepatic storage iron in transfusional iron overload

Haiying Tang*, Jens H. Jensen, Christina L. Sammet, Sujit Sheth, Srirama V. Swaminathan, Kristi Hultman, Daniel Kim, Ed X. Wu, Truman R. Brown, Gary M. Brittenham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Purpose To quantify the two principal forms of hepatic storage iron, diffuse, soluble iron (primarily ferritin), and aggregated, insoluble iron (primarily hemosiderin) using a new MRI method in patients with transfusional iron overload. Materials and Methods Six healthy volunteers and 20 patients with transfusion-dependent thalassemia syndromes and iron overload were examined. Ferritin- and hemosiderin-like iron were determined based on the measurement of two distinct relaxation parameters: the "reduced" transverse relaxation rate, RR2, and the "aggregation index," A, using three sets of Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill (CPMG) datasets with different interecho spacings. Agarose phantoms, simulating the relaxation and susceptibility properties of tissue with different concentrations of dispersed (ferritin-like) and aggregated (hemosiderin-like) iron, were used for validation. Results Both phantom and in vivo human data confirmed that transverse relaxation components associated with the dispersed and aggregated iron could be separated using the two-parameter (RR2, A) method. The MRI-determined total hepatic storage iron was highly correlated (r = 0.95) with measurements derived from biopsy or biosusceptometry. As total hepatic storage iron increased, the proportion stored as aggregated iron became greater. Conclusion This method provides a new means for noninvasive MRI determination of the partition of hepatic storage iron between ferritin and hemosiderin in iron overload disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-316
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • MRI
  • ferritin, hemosiderin, iron quantification
  • hepatic storage iron
  • iron overload

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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