Quantifying intracranial plaque permeability with dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI: A pilot study

P. Vakil, A. H. Elmokadem, F. H. Syed, C. G. Cantrell, F. H. Dehkordi, T. J. Carroll, S. A. Ansari*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Intracranial atherosclerotic disease plaque hyperintensity and/or gadolinium contrast enhancement have been studied as imaging biomarkers of acutely symptomatic ischemic presentations using single static MR imaging measurements. However, the value in modeling the dynamics of intracranial plaque permeability has yet to be evaluated. The purpose of this study was to use dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging to quantify the contrast permeability of intracranial atherosclerotic disease plaques in symptomatic patients and to compare these parameters against existing markers of plaque volatility using black-blood MR imaging pulse sequences. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed a prospective study of contrast uptake dynamics in the major intracranial vessels proximal and immediately distal to the circle of Willis using dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging, specifically in patients with symptomatic intracranial atherosclerotic disease. Using the Modified Tofts model, we extracted the volume transfer constant (Ktrans) and fractional plasma volume (Vp) parameters from plaque-enhancement curves. Using regression analyses, we compared these parameters against time from symptom onset as well as intraplaque hyperintensity and postcontrast enhancement derived from T1 SPACE, a black-blood MR vessel wall imaging sequence. RESULTS: We completed analysis in 10 patients presenting with symptomatic intracranial atherosclerotic disease. Ktrans and Vp measurements were higher in plaques versus healthy white matter and similar or less than values in the choroid plexus. Only Ktrans correlated significantly with time from symptom onset (P = .02). Dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging parameters were not found to correlate significantly with intraplaque enhancement or intraplaque hyperintensity (P = .4 and P = .17, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Elevated Ktrans and Vp values found in intracranial atherosclerotic disease plaques versus healthy white matter suggest that dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging is a feasible technique for studying vessel wall and plaque characteristics in the proximal intracranial vasculature. Significant correlations between Ktrans and symptom onset, which were not observed on T1 SPACE-derived metrics, suggest that Ktrans may be an independent imaging biomarker of acute and symptom-associated pathologic changes in intracranial atherosclerotic disease plaques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-249
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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