Assessment of Myocardial Microstructural Dynamics by In Vivo Diffusion Tensor Cardiac Magnetic Resonance

Sonia Nielles-Vallespin, Zohya Khalique, Pedro F. Ferreira, Ranil de Silva, Andrew D. Scott, Philip Kilner, Laura Ann McGill, Archontis Giannakidis, Peter D. Gatehouse, Daniel Ennis, Eric Aliotta, Majid Al-Khalil, Peter Kellman, Dumitru Mazilu, Robert S. Balaban, David N. Firmin, Andrew E. Arai, Dudley J. Pennell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background Cardiomyocytes are organized in microstructures termed sheetlets that reorientate during left ventricular thickening. Diffusion tensor cardiac magnetic resonance (DT-CMR) may enable noninvasive interrogation of in vivo cardiac microstructural dynamics. Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a condition of abnormal myocardium with unknown sheetlet function. Objectives This study sought to validate in vivo DT-CMR measures of cardiac microstructure against histology, characterize microstructural dynamics during left ventricular wall thickening, and apply the technique in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and DCM. Methods In vivo DT-CMR was acquired throughout the cardiac cycle in healthy swine, followed by in situ and ex vivo DT-CMR, then validated against histology. In vivo DT-CMR was performed in 19 control subjects, 19 DCM, and 13 HCM patients. Results In swine, a DT-CMR index of sheetlet reorientation (E2A) changed substantially (E2A mobility ∼46°). E2A changes correlated with wall thickness changes (in vivo r2 = 0.75; in situ r2 = 0.89), were consistently observed under all experimental conditions, and accorded closely with histological analyses in both relaxed and contracted states. The potential contribution of cyclical strain effects to in vivo E2A was ∼17%. In healthy human control subjects, E2A increased from diastole (18°) to systole (65° p < 0.001; E2A mobility = 45°). HCM patients showed significantly greater E2A in diastole than control subjects did (48° p < 0.001) with impaired E2A mobility (23° p < 0.001). In DCM, E2A was similar to control subjects in diastole, but systolic values were markedly lower (40° p < 0.001) with impaired E2A mobility (20° p < 0.001). Conclusions Myocardial microstructure dynamics can be characterized by in vivo DT-CMR. Sheetlet function was abnormal in DCM with altered systolic conformation and reduced mobility, contrasting with HCM, which showed reduced mobility with altered diastolic conformation. These novel insights significantly improve understanding of contractile dysfunction at a level of noninvasive interrogation not previously available in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)661-676
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 14 2017


  • dilated cardiomyopathy
  • helical structure
  • hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • laminar structure
  • left ventricle
  • sheetlet structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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    Nielles-Vallespin, S., Khalique, Z., Ferreira, P. F., de Silva, R., Scott, A. D., Kilner, P., McGill, L. A., Giannakidis, A., Gatehouse, P. D., Ennis, D., Aliotta, E., Al-Khalil, M., Kellman, P., Mazilu, D., Balaban, R. S., Firmin, D. N., Arai, A. E., & Pennell, D. J. (2017). Assessment of Myocardial Microstructural Dynamics by In Vivo Diffusion Tensor Cardiac Magnetic Resonance. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 69(6), 661-676.