T1-weighted Dynamic Contrast-enhanced MR Imaging of the Lung in Asthma: Semiquantitative Analysis for the Assessment of Contrast Agent Kinetic Characteristics

Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1148/radiol.2015141876

The characteristics of contrast agent kinetics monitored by using dynamic contrast-enhanced MR imaging differ between asthmatic lungs and healthy lungs and are related to measurements of pulmonary function.


To evaluate the contrast agent kinetics of dynamic contrast material–enhanced (DCE) magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in healthy lungs and asthmatic lungs by using non–model-based semiquantitative parameters and to explore the relationships with pulmonary function testing and eosinophil level.

Materials and Methods

The study was approved by the National Research Ethical Committee (reference no. 11/NW/0387), and written informed consent was obtained from all individuals. Ten healthy subjects and 30 patients with asthma underwent pulmonary function tests, blood and sputum eosinophil counts, and 1.5-T DCE MR imaging within 7 days. Semiquantitative parameters of contrast agent kinetics were calculated from the relative signal intensity–time course curves on a pixel-by-pixel basis and were summarized by using whole-lung median values. The distribution heterogeneity was assessed by using the regional coefficient of variation. DCE MR imaging readouts were compared between groups by using one-way analysis of variance, and the relationships with pulmonary function testing and eosinophil counts were assessed by using Pearson correlation analysis.


Asthmatic patients showed significantly lower peak enhancement (P < .001) and initial areas under the relative signal intensity curve in the first 60 seconds (P = .002) and significantly reduced late-phase washout slope (P = .002) when compared with healthy control subjects. The distribution heterogeneity of bolus arrival time (P = .029), time to peak (P = .008), upslope of the first-pass peak (P = .011), and late-phase washout slope (P = .032), estimated by using the median coefficient of variation, were significantly higher in asthmatic patients than in healthy control subjects. These imaging readouts also showed significant linear correlations with measurements of pulmonary function testing but not with eosinophil level in patients with asthma.


The contrast agent kinetic characteristics of T1-weighted DCE MR images of asthmatic lungs are different from those of healthy lungs and are related to measurements of pulmonary function testing but not to eosinophil level.

© RSNA, 2015

Online supplemental material is available for this article.


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Article History

Received August 6, 2014; revision requested September 18; revision received May 4, 2015; accepted June 11; final version accepted August 3.
Published online: Oct 20 2015
Published in print: Mar 2016