During cardiac disease, the heart is exposed to various stress factors, such as hypertension, ischemia and infarction. This results in both structural and functional remodelling of the heart. However, the these processes are complex and result in a large variety of phenotypes. Additionally, available imaging techniques have limited capability to identify the details in structural and functional cardiac remodelling. Accordingly, robust imaging biomarkers of cardiac disease progression are lacking.
Over the last years we have explored the potential of tissue phased mapping, a MR technique, to offer high resolution functional imaging of the heart. This technique has the capability to advance cardiac imaging directly by offering new biomarkers of disease entities, but also to facilitate the development of new imaging techniques such as cardiac elastography. We are working to establish elastography as a 3D technique to identify myocardial stiffness, which primarily is a result of fibrosis. We are also using other techniques, such as T1 mapping and diffusion tensor imaging, to investigate myocardial structure. Additionally, we are using mathematical remodelling to integrate our imaging data to understand the underlying pathological processes, and identify new imaging biomarkers of cardiac syndroms, such as diastolic dysfunction.
Our group is translating new concepts and techniques from preclinical use to human imaging. We are running several clinical studies, investigating for instance biomarkers for early detection of fibrosis, 3D parameters of diastolic dysfunction, and effects of various diseases (such as kidney failure) on cardiac function.
The group leader is professor Ivar Sjaastad, which is a cardiologist. Group members have diverse academic background, such as clinical medicine, physics, mathematics, molecular biology and radiology. We are collaborating with leading national research groups in cardiology, radiology, nuclear medicine, cancer medicine, various clinical specialities, physics and mathematics. Also, our international collaborators are at the highest level, located at for instance the Mayo clinic, KU Leuven and University of Chicago.