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Acute myocarditis in a rat model: late gadolinium enhancement with histopathological correlation

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The aim of the current study was to use an established animal model of autoimmune myocarditis and to judge the ability of cardiovascular MRI (CMR) in quantitatively measuring the extent of myocardial involvement compared with histopathological measurement of severity and extent. Experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) was induced in 10 male Lewis rats. On day 21, all animals were investigated by CMR to measure the extent of late gadolinium enhancement (LGE). Subsequently, histopathological evaluation of the entire heart was performed. All animals of the experimental group fulfilled histopathological criteria of myocarditis, revealing necrosis in seven of eight cases. At reduced heart rate, area of LGE correlated highly with histologically proven area of myocarditis (r = 0.80–0.87, p < 0.05). LGE was mainly located in the anterior (range 50–62.5%) and lateral (range 62.5–75%) left ventricular wall and septum (range 25–50%) with a midwall to subepicardial accentuation. The LGE pattern found by CMR can be regarded as suggestive of EAM. With cellular necrosis being the main mechanism for LGE we were able to show high correlations between CMR examination results and histopathologically proven areas of myocarditis. Thus we think the current animal model can provide the opportunity for further fundamental research into myocarditis.

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Correspondence to Huedayi Korkusuz.

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Korkusuz, H., Esters, P., Naguib, N. et al. Acute myocarditis in a rat model: late gadolinium enhancement with histopathological correlation. Eur Radiol 19, 2672–2678 (2009).

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