A reliable, non-invasive diagnostic method is needed for early detection and serial monitoring of cardiotoxicity, a well-known side effect of chemotherapy. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of T1-mapping cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (CMR) for evaluating subclinical myocardial changes in a doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity rabbit model. Adult male New Zealand White rabbits were injected twice-weekly with doxorubicin and subjected to CMR on a clinical 3T MR system before and every 2-4 weeks post-drug administration. Native T1 and extracellular volume (ECV) values were measured at six mid-left ventricle (LV) and specific LV lesions. Histological assessments evaluated myocardial injury and fibrosis. Three pre-model and 11 post-model animals were included. Myocardial injury was observed from 3 weeks. Mean LV myocardium ECV values increased significantly from week 3 before LV ejection fraction decreases (week 6), and ECVs of the RV upper/lower insertion sites and papillary muscle exceeded those of the LV. The mean native T1 value in the mid-LV increased significantly increased from week 6, and LV myocardium ECV correlated strongly with the degree of fibrosis (r = 0.979, p < 0.001). Myocardial T1 mapping, particularly ECV values, reliably and non-invasively detected early cardiotoxicity, allowing serial monitoring of chemotherapy-induced cardiotoxicity.
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