Measurement of fat fraction in the human thymus by localized NMR and three-point Dixon MRI techniques

TitleMeasurement of fat fraction in the human thymus by localized NMR and three-point Dixon MRI techniques
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsFishbein KW, Makrogiannis SK, Lukas VA, Okine M, Ramachandran R, Ferrucci L, Egan JM, Chia CW, Spencer RG
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Pagination110 - 118
KeywordsDixon MRI, Fat fraction, Fat-water separation, Involution, Localized spectroscopy, Thymus

AbstractPurpose To develop a protocol to non-invasively measure and map fat fraction, fat/(fat+water), as a function of age in the adult thymus for future studies monitoring the effects of interventions aimed at promoting thymic rejuvenation and preservation of immunity in older adults. Materials and methods Three-dimensional spoiled gradient echo 3T \{MRI\} with 3-point Dixon fat-water separation was performed at full inspiration for thymus conspicuity in 36 volunteers 19 to 56?years old. Reproducible breath-holding was facilitated by real-time pressure recording external to the console. The \{MRI\} method was validated against localized spectroscopy in vivo, with \{ECG\} triggering to compensate for stretching during the cardiac cycle. Fat fractions were corrected for \{T1\} and \{T2\} bias using relaxation times measured using inversion recovery-prepared \{PRESS\} with incremented echo time. Results In thymus at 3?T, T1water?=?978?±?75?ms, T1fat?=?323?±?37?ms, T2water?=?43.4?±?9.7?ms and T2fat?=?52.1?±?7.6?ms were measured. Mean T1-corrected \{MRI\} fat fractions varied from 0.2 to 0.8 and were positively correlated with age, weight and body mass index (BMI). In subjects with matching \{MRI\} and \{MRS\} fat fraction measurements, the difference between these measurements exhibited a mean of ?0.008 with a 95% confidence interval of (0.123, ?0.138). Conclusions 3-point Dixon \{MRI\} of the thymus with \{T1\} bias correction produces quantitative fat fraction maps that correlate with T2-corrected \{MRS\} measurements and show age trends consistent with thymic involution.