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Cardiac MRI: a Translational Imaging Tool for Characterizing Anthracycline-Induced Myocardial Remodeling


Cardiovascular side effects of cancer therapeutics are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in cancer survivors. Anthracyclines (AC) serve as the backbone of many anti-cancer treatment strategies, but dose-dependent myocardial injury limits their use. Cumulative AC exposure can disrupt the dynamic equilibrium of the myocardial microarchitecture while repeated injury and repair leads to myocyte loss, interstitial myocardial fibrosis, and impaired contractility. Although children are assumed to have greater myocardial plasticity, AC exposure at a younger age portends worse prognosis. In older patients, there is lower overall survival once they develop cardiovascular disease. Because aberrations in the myocardial architecture predispose the heart to a decline in function, early detection with sensitive imaging tools is crucial and the implications for resource utilization are substantial. As a comprehensive imaging modality, cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging is able to go beyond quantification of ejection fraction and myocardial deformation to characterize adaptive microstructural and microvascular changes that are important to myocardial tissue health. Herein, we describe CMR as an established translational imaging tool that can be used clinically to characterize AC-associated myocardial remodeling.

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