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Magnetic Resonance at the Department of Molecular Cardiology

The Magnetic Resonance Laboratory utilises cutting edge magnetic resonance techniques for noninvasive investigation of organs in small rodents

The Magnetic Resonance Laboratory at the University Hospital Düsseldorf is equipped with a 400 MHz Bruker AVANCEIII Widebore NMR Spectrometer, which is employed to noninvasively investigate organs (heartvesselsbrain, etc.) of mice and small rats by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

While the magnetic field strength of a clinical MRI unit is typically 1.5 Tesla, the corresponding value of the research unit at our disposal is 9.4 Tesla. With this setup dynamic, high resolution images of the mouse heart can be recorded revealing the morphology of this small organ in detail. This allows the determination of wall thickness, shape of the heart, ventricular volumes, and myocardial mass in three-dimensional form routinely (→ heart). The comparison of systole and diastole also yields the pumpage of the heart as a functional parameter.

Because of the high water (H2O) content (~75%) within the body the multiplicity of MRI applications focuses on the detection of hydrogen (1H) nuclei (→ theory). However, one should clearly keep in mind that also, via the somewhat exotic appearing X-nuclei (such as 13C19F, and 31P), information can be obtained which by other means would be difficult to access.

With this strong magnet, thus, not only anatomical images of the inside of the body can be acquired, but by dedicated techniques also foci of inflammation or special proteins like myoglobin, small molecular compounds like adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and glucose, respectively, or even ions in individual organs, such as the heart, can be determined without radiation exposure (→ theory). The latter is the big advantage of all MR-related methods both MRI and the so-called NMR spectroscopy (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance): the measurements can be carried out noninvasively at the living animal or at isolated organs, if required in a repetitive manner. Thereby, important issues of cardiac metabolism in the context of infarction or heart insufficiency can be addressed, in particular the high energy phosphates as well as oxygen supplypH regulation and ion or body lipid homeostasis. In order to get a more detailed insight into the different subject areas we worked about within the last years, you can check the listing of peer-reviewed publications.

Requests regarding scientific cooperations or MD and PhD theses, respectively, are welcome at any time. For the latter you can usually join the team immediately for collaboration in several different exciting projects.