Separate MRI quantification of dispersed (ferritin-like) and aggregated (hemosiderin-like) storage iron

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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


A new MRI method is proposed for separately quantifying the two principal forms of tissue storage (nonheme) iron: ferritin iron, a dispersed, soluble fraction that can be rapidly mobilized, and hemosiderin iron, an aggregated, insoluble fraction that serves as a long-term reserve. The method utilizes multiple spin echo sequences, exploiting the fact that aggregated iron can induce nonmonoexponential signal decay for multiple spin echo sequences. The method is validated in vitro for agarose phantoms, simulating dispersed iron with manganese chloride, and aggregated iron with iron oxide microspheres. To demonstrate feasibility for human studies, preliminary in vivo data from two healthy controls and six patients with transfusional iron overload are presented. For both phantoms and human subjects, conventional R2 and R2*relaxation rates are also measured in order to contrast the proposed method with established MRI iron quantification techniques. Quantification of dispersed (ferritin-like) iron may provide a new means of monitoring the risk of iron-induced toxicity in patients with iron overload and, together with quantification of aggregated (hemosiderin-like) iron, improve the accuracy of estimates for total storage iron.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1209
Number of pages9
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Ferritin
  • Hemosiderin
  • Iron overload
  • Liver
  • MRI
  • Quantification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


Dive into the research topics of 'Separate MRI quantification of dispersed (ferritin-like) and aggregated (hemosiderin-like) storage iron'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this