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PURPOSE: This paper presents a hierarchical modeling approach for estimating cardiomyocyte major and minor diameters and intracellular volume fraction (ICV) using diffusion-weighted MRI (DWI) data in ex vivo mouse hearts. METHODS: DWI data were acquired on two healthy controls and two hearts 3 weeks post transverse aortic constriction (TAC) using a bespoke diffusion scheme with multiple diffusion times ( Δ $$ \Delta $$ ), q-shells and diffusion encoding directions. Firstly, a bi-exponential tensor model was fitted separately at each diffusion time to disentangle the dependence on diffusion times from diffusion weightings, that is, b-values. The slow-diffusing component was attributed to the restricted diffusion inside cardiomyocytes. ICV was then extrapolated at Δ = 0 $$ \Delta =0 $$ using linear regression. Secondly, given the secondary and the tertiary diffusion eigenvalue measurements for the slow-diffusing component obtained at different diffusion times, major and minor diameters were estimated assuming a cylinder model with an elliptical cross-section (ECS). High-resolution three-dimensional synchrotron X-ray imaging (SRI) data from the same specimen was utilized to evaluate the biophysical parameters. RESULTS: Estimated parameters using DWI data were (control 1/control 2 vs. TAC 1/TAC 2): major diameter-17.4 μ $$ \mu $$ m/18.0 μ $$ \mu $$ m versus 19.2 μ $$ \mu $$ m/19.0 μ $$ \mu $$ m; minor diameter-10.2 μ $$ \mu $$ m/9.4 μ $$ \mu $$ m versus 12.8 μ $$ \mu $$ m/13.4 μ $$ \mu $$ m; and ICV-62%/62% versus 68%/47%. These findings were consistent with SRI measurements. CONCLUSION: The proposed method allowed for accurate estimation of biophysical parameters suggesting cardiomyocyte diameters as sensitive biomarkers of hypertrophy in the heart.

Original publication




Journal article


Magn Reson Med

Publication Date



biophysical models, cardiac microstructure mapping, diffusion-weighted MRI, synchrotron X-ray imaging