BACKGROUND: To develop a noninvasive technique to assess liver volumetry and intrahepatic portal vein anatomy in a mouse model of liver regeneration.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fifty-two C57BL/6 male mice underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the liver using a 4.7 T small animal MRI system after no treatment, 70% partial hepatectomy (PH), or selective portal vein embolization. The protocol consisted of the following sequences: three-dimensional-encoded spoiled gradient-echo sequence (repetition time per echo time 15 per 2.7 ms, flip angle 20°) for volumetry, and two-dimensional-encoded time-of-flight angiography sequence (repetition time per echo time 18 per 6.4 ms, flip angle 80°) for vessel visualization. Liver volume and portal vein segmentation was performed using a dedicated postprocessing software. In animals with portal vein embolization, portography served as reference standard. True liver volume was measured after sacrificing the animals. Measurements were carried out by two independent observers with subsequent analysis by the Cohen κ-test for interobserver agreement.
RESULTS: MRI liver volumetry highly correlated with the true liver volume measurement using a conventional method in both the untreated liver and the liver remnant after 70% PH with a high interobserver correlation coefficient of 0.94 (95% confidence interval, 0.80-0.98 for untreated liver [P < 0.001] and 0.90-0.97 after 70% PH [P < 0.001]). The diagnostic accuracy of magnetic resonance angiography for the occlusion of one branch of the portal vein was 0.95 (95% confidence interval, 0.84-1). The level of agreement between the two observers for the description of intrahepatic vascular anatomy was excellent (Cohen κ value = 0.925).
CONCLUSIONS: This protocol may be used for noninvasive liver volumetry and visualization of portal vein anatomy in mice. It will serve the dynamic study of new strategies to enhance liver regeneration in vivo.