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An experimental study for quantitative assessment of fatty infiltration and blood flow perfusion in quadriceps muscle of rats using IDEAL-IQ and BOLD-MRI for early diagnosis of sarcopenia.

Experimental Gerontology 2023 October 32
BACKGROUND: Severe sarcopenia may result in severe disability. Early diagnosis is currently the key to enhancing the treatment of sarcopenia, and there is an urgent need for a highly sensitive and dependable tool to evaluate the course of early sarcopenia in clinical practice. This study aims to investigate longitudinally the early diagnosability of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based fat infiltration and blood flow perfusion technology in sarcopenia progression.

METHODS: 48 Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned into six groups that were based on different periods of dexamethasone (DEX) injection (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 days). Multimodal MRI was scanned to assess muscle mass. Grip strength and swimming exhaustion time of rats were measured to assess muscle strength and function. Immunofluorescence staining for CD31 was employed to assess skeletal muscle capillary formation, and western blot was used to detect vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) and muscle ring finger-1 (MuRF-1) protein expression. Subsequently, we analyzed the correlation between imaging and histopathologic parameters. A receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis was conducted to assess the effectiveness of quantitative MRI parameters for discriminating diagnosis in both pre- and post-modeling of DEX-induced sarcopenic rats.

RESULTS: Significant differences were found in PDFF, R2* and T2 values on day 2 of DEX-induction compared to the control group, occurring prior to the MRI-CSA values and limb grip strength on day 6 of induction and swimming exhaustion time on day 8 of induction. There is a strong correlation between MRI-CSA with HE-CSA values (r = 0.67; p < 0.001), oil red O (ORO) area with PDFF (r = 0.67; p < 0.001), microvascular density (MVD) (r = -0.79; p < 0.001) and VEGF-A (r = -0.73; p < 0.001) with R2*, MuRF-1 with MRI-CSA (r = -0.82; p < 0.001). The AUC of PDFF, R2*, and T2 values used for modeling evaluation are 0.81, 0.93, and 0.98, respectively.

CONCLUSION: Imaging parameters PDFF, R2*, and T2 can be used to sensitively evaluate early pathological changes in sarcopenia. The successful construction of a sarcopenia rat model can be assessed when PDFF exceeds 1.25, R2* exceeds 53.85, and T2 exceeds 33.88.

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