A reference agent model for DCE MRI can be used to quantify the relative vascular permeability of two MRI contrast agents

Julio Cárdenas-Rodríguez, Christine M. Howison, Terry O. Matsunaga, Mark D. Pagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Dynamic Contrast Enhancement (DCE) MRI has been used to measure the kinetic transport constant, Ktrans, which is used to assess tumor angiogenesis and the effects of anti-angiogenic therapies. Standard DCE MRI methods must measure the pharmacokinetics of a contrast agent in the blood stream, known as the Arterial Input Function (AIF), which is then used as a reference for the pharmacokinetics of the agent in tumor tissue. However, the AIF is difficult to measure in pre-clinical tumor models and in patients. Moreover the AIF is dependent on the Fahraeus effect that causes a highly variable hematocrit (Hct) in tumor microvasculature, leading to erroneous estimates of Ktrans. To overcome these problems, we have developed the Reference Agent Model (RAM) for DCE MRI analyses, which determines the relative Ktrans of two contrast agents that are simultaneously co-injected and detected in the same tissue during a single DCE-MRI session. The RAM obviates the need to monitor the AIF because one contrast agent effectively serves as an internal reference in the tumor tissue for the other agent, and it also eliminates the systematic errors in the estimated Ktrans caused by assuming an erroneous Hct. Simulations demonstrated that the RAM can accurately and precisely estimate the relative Ktrans (RKtrans) of two agents. To experimentally evaluate the utility of RAM for analyzing DCE MRI results, we optimized a previously reported multiecho 19F MRI method to detect two perfluorinated contrast agents that were co-injected during a single in vivo study and selectively detected in the same tumor location. The results demonstrated that RAM determined RKtrans with excellent accuracy and precision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)900-910
Number of pages11
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2013


  • Dynamic contrast enhanced MRI
  • F MRI
  • Linear models
  • Perfluorocarbons
  • Permeability
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Reference agent model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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