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Preclinical and multiparametric cardiac magnetic resonance imaging for the anatomical, functional and molecular assessment of cardiac remodeling

The PhD project will focus on the development and testing of new cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (cMRI) methods in rodents. We propose a complex MRI protocol enabling the full characterization of the heart function under physiological and patho-physiological conditions in rodents. Cardiac MRI has the versatility to quantify the global cardiac function (EDV, ESV, EF, cardiac output, myocardial thickening), local function such as contractility (displacement and strain), myocardial perfusion (MBF), molecular/metabolic status (MRS, oxygenation by hyperoxic/normocapnic challenge) and tissue integrity (localization of infarcted regions via late Gd-enhancement (LGE), diffusion tensor). First, novel cMRI fingerprinting methods will be established. For monitoring cardiac morphology, myocardial perfusion, function, inflammation and metabolism in mice, we propose to extract from a single scan several parameters (myocardial global function, contractility, apparent T1 and proton density, myocardial blood flow and metabolism/inflammation). In a second step, the methods will be tested in phantoms as much as possible (phantom experiments are not feasible for all aspects of the method development). Finally, cMRI methods will be tested in control animals (mainly mice but also rats) and rodents with myocardial ischemic injury. For the later aspect, close collaborations with the group of cardiac surgery (Prof. Wouter Oosterlinck) will be used. In addition to the development, implementation and testing of novel cMRI techniques in rodents, the establishment and validation of novel image processing pipelines will be part of this thesis. I will develop an imaging pipeline that is compatible for synchronized PET/ MRI acquisition, which will result in a feasible in vivo imaging protocol and also ease the animal handling. This approach is based on our modified self-gated cine acquisitions, enabling synchronization and retrospective gating with, for example, PET data acquisition. MRI protocols will be implemented in order to be able to extract index of myocardial integrity, myocardial perfusion (under rest and stress) and possibly inflammatory signatures. Finally, and based on previous method developed in our group, myocardial oxygenation will be investigated. Image acquisition and processing pipelines will be tested first in phantoms, in healthy animals and finally in animals with myocardial ischemic injury in order to monitor and quantify myocardial remodeling in mice.

Date:1 Aug 2021 →  Today
Keywords:MRI, preclinical imaging
Disciplines:Biomedical image processing, Cardiology
Project type:PhD project