Multiparametric Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Imaging Can Detect Acute Cardiac Allograft Rejection After Heart Transplantation

Ryan S. Dolan, Amir A. Rahsepar, J. Blaisdell, Kenichiro Suwa, Kambiz Ghafourian, Jane E. Wilcox, Sadiya S. Khan, Esther E. Vorovich, Jonathan D. Rich, Allen S. Anderson, Clyde W. Yancy, Jeremy D. Collins, James C. Carr, Michael Markl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the sensitivity of multiparametric cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) for the detection of acute cardiac allograft rejection (ACAR). Background: ACAR is currently diagnosed by endomyocardial biopsy, but CMR may be a noninvasive alternative because of its capacity for regional myocardial structure and function characterization. Methods: Fifty-eight transplant recipients (mean age 47.0 ± 14.7 years) and 14 control subjects (mean age 47.7 ± 16.7 years) were prospectively recruited from August 2014 to May 2017 and underwent 97 CMR studies (83 transplant recipients, 14 control subjects) for assessment of global left ventricular function and myocardial T2, T1, and extracellular volume fraction (ECV). CMR studies were divided into 4 groups on the basis of biopsy grade: control subjects (n = 14), patients with no ACAR (no history of ACAR; n = 36), patients with past ACAR (history of ACAR; n = 24), and ACAR+ patients (active grade ≥1R ACAR; n = 23). Results: Myocardial T2 was significantly higher in patients with past ACAR compared with those with no ACAR (51.0 ± 3.8 ms vs. 49.2 ± 4.0 ms; p = 0.02) and in patients with no ACAR compared with control subjects (49.2 ± 4.0 ms vs. 45.2 ± 2.3 ms; p < 0.01). ACAR+ patients demonstrated increased T2 compared with the no ACAR group (52.4 ± 4.7 ms vs. 49.2 ± 4.0 ms, p < 0.01) but not compared with the past ACAR group. In contrast, ECV was significantly elevated in ACAR+ patients compared with transplant recipients without ACAR regardless of history of ACAR (no ACAR: 31.5 ± 3.9% vs. 26.8 ± 3.3% [p < 0.01]; past ACAR: 31.5 ± 3.9% vs. 26.8 ± 4.0% [p < 0.01]). Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis revealed that a combined model of age at CMR, global T2, and global ECV was predictive of ACAR (area under the curve = 0.84). Conclusions: The combination of CMR-derived myocardial T2 and ECV has potential as a noninvasive tissue biomarker for ACAR. Larger studies during acute ACAR are needed for continued development of multiparametric CMR for transplant recipient surveillance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1632-1641
Number of pages10
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number8P2
StatePublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • CMR
  • ECV
  • T1 mapping
  • T2 mapping
  • cardiac MRI
  • extracellular volume fraction
  • heart transplantation
  • rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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