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Curr Cardiovasc Imaging Rep. 2011 Feb 1;4(1):50-62.

Cellular and Functional Imaging of Cardiac Transplant Rejection.

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  • 1Pittsburgh NMR Center for Biomedical Research and the Department of Biological Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


Heart transplantation is now an established treatment for patients suffering from end-stage heart diseases. With the advances in immunosuppressive treatment, the survival rate for transplant patients has improved greatly. However, allograft rejection, both acute and chronic, after heart transplantation is still a limitation leading to morbidity and mortality. The current clinical gold standard for screening rejection is endomyocardial biopsy (EMB), which is not only invasive, but also error-prone, due to the limited sample size and the site location of sampling. It would be highly desirable to have reliable and noninvasive alternatives for EMB in monitoring cardiac allograft rejection. The objective of this review is to highlight how cardiovascular imaging can contribute to noninvasively detecting and to evaluating both acute and chronic allograft rejection after heart transplantation, in particular, cardiovascular MRI (CMRI); and how CMRI can assess both immune cell infiltration at the rejecting organ, and the cardiac dysfunctions resulting from allograft rejection.

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