Multi-organ imaging demonstrates the heart-brain-liver axis in UK Biobank participants.
McCracken C., Raisi-Estabragh Z., Veldsman M., Raman B., Dennis A., Husain M., Nichols TE., Petersen SE., Neubauer S.
Medical imaging provides numerous insights into the subclinical changes that precede serious diseases such as heart disease and dementia. However, most imaging research either describes a single organ system or draws on clinical cohorts with small sample sizes. In this study, we use state-of-the-art multi-organ magnetic resonance imaging phenotypes to investigate cross-sectional relationships across the heart-brain-liver axis in 30,444 UK Biobank participants. Despite controlling for an extensive range of demographic and clinical covariates, we find significant associations between imaging-derived phenotypes of the heart (left ventricular structure, function and aortic distensibility), brain (brain volumes, white matter hyperintensities and white matter microstructure), and liver (liver fat, liver iron and fibroinflammation). Simultaneous three-organ modelling identifies differentially important pathways across the heart-brain-liver axis with evidence of both direct and indirect associations. This study describes a potentially cumulative burden of multiple-organ dysfunction and provides essential insight into multi-organ disease prevention.