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Assessment of pulmonary physiological changes caused by aging, cigarette smoking, and COPD with hyperpolarized 129 Xe magnetic resonance.

European Radiology 2024 May 16
OBJECTIVE: To comprehensively assess the impact of aging, cigarette smoking, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) on pulmonary physiology using 129 Xe MR.

METHODS: A total of 90 subjects were categorized into four groups, including healthy young (HY, n = 20), age-matched control (AMC, n = 20), asymptomatic smokers (AS, n = 28), and COPD patients (n = 22). 129 Xe MR was utilized to obtain pulmonary physiological parameters, including ventilation defect percent (VDP), alveolar sleeve depth (h), apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), total septal wall thickness (d), and ratio of xenon signal from red blood cells and interstitial tissue/plasma (RBC/TP).

RESULTS: Significant differences were found in the measured VDP (p = 0.035), h (p = 0.003), and RBC/TP (p = 0.003) between the HY and AMC groups. Compared with the AMC group, higher VDP (p = 0.020) and d (p = 0.048) were found in the AS group; higher VDP (p < 0.001), d (p < 0.001) and ADC (p < 0.001), and lower h (p < 0.001) and RBC/TP (p < 0.001) were found in the COPD group. Moreover, significant differences were also found in the measured VDP (p < 0.001), h (p < 0.001), ADC (p < 0.001), d (p = 0.008), and RBC/TP (p = 0.032) between the AS and COPD groups.

CONCLUSION: Our findings indicate that pulmonary structure and functional changes caused by aging, cigarette smoking, and COPD are various, and show a progressive deterioration with the accumulation of these risk factors, including cigarette smoking and COPD.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE STATEMENT: Pathophysiological changes can be difficult to comprehensively understand due to limitations in common techniques and multifactorial etiologies. 129 Xe MRI can demonstrate structural and functional changes caused by several common factors and can be used to better understand patients' underlying pathology.

KEY POINTS: Standard techniques for assessing pathophysiological lung function changes, spirometry, and chest CT come with limitations. 129 Xe MR demonstrated progressive deterioration with accumulation of the investigated risk factors, without these limitations. 129 Xe MR can assess lung changes related to these risk factors to stage and evaluate the etiology of the disease.

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