Blood oxygen level-dependent and perfusion magnetic resonance imaging: detecting differences in oxygen bioavailability and blood flow in transplanted kidneys.
Orthotopic DA (RT1a) into Lewis (RT1l) rat kidney allografts and control Lewis-into-Lewis grafts were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and perfusion measurement after intravenous injection of a superparamagnetic contrast agent. MRI anatomical scores (range 1-6) and perfusion rates were compared with graft histology (rank of rejection score 1-6). Not only acute rejection, but also chronic events were monitored after acute rejection was prevented by daily cyclosporine (Sandimmune) treatment during the first 2 weeks after transplantation. In acute allograft rejection (n = 11), MRI scores reached the maximum value of 6 and perfusion rates were severely reduced within 5 days after transplantation; histology showed severe acute rejection (histologic score 5-6). In the chronic phase (100-130 days after transplantation), allografts (n = 5) manifested rejection (in histology cellular rejection and vessel changes), accompanied by MRI scores of around 2-3 and reduced perfusion rates. Both in the acute and chronic phases, the MRI anatomical score correlated significantly with the histological score (Spearman rank correlation coefficient rs 0.89, n = 30, P < 0.01), and perfusion rates correlated significantly with the MRI score or histological score (rs values between -0.60 and -0.87, n = 23, P < 0.01). It is concluded that MRI represents an interesting tool for assessing the anatomical and hemodynamical status of a kidney allograft in the acute and chronic phases after transplantation.