Tracking Creatine Through Modified MRI May Speed Detection of Damaged Heart Tissue

Mapping creatine in the heart via high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may help clinicians find abnormalities earlier than traditional diagnostic methods allow.

New research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine suggests mapping creatine in the heart via high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can help clinicians find abnormalities earlier than traditional diagnostic methods allow.

In their preclinical study published online January 12, 2014, in Nature Medicine, Ravinder Reddy, PhD, and colleagues discovered that tracking creatine changes in large animal models through chemical exchange saturation transfer (CrEST) MRI provides higher-resolution images than standard magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). In addition to the method’s sensitivity benefits and advantages over MRS, CrEST does not require the radioactive or contrast agents used in MRI, which can adversely affect patients and increase costs.

Though MRS can map changes in creatine levels and pinpoint infarcted areas in heart muscle tissue just like the CrEST method, the researchers said CrEST has 2 orders of higher sensitivity magnitude than MRS — an advantage that may help clinicians find smaller damaged areas in the heart traditional methods usually miss.

The authors also noted CrEST can be used to investigate alterations in normal heart function seen in other types of non-ischemic heart disease, as well as brain disorders.