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Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) radiomics is a novel technique for advanced cardiac image phenotyping by analyzing multiple quantifiers of shape and tissue texture. In this paper, we assess, in the largest sample published to date, the performance of CMR radiomics models for identifying changes in cardiac structure and tissue texture due to cardiovascular risk factors. We evaluated five risk factor groups from the first 5,065 UK Biobank participants: hypertension (n = 1,394), diabetes (n = 243), high cholesterol (n = 779), current smoker (n = 320), and previous smoker (n = 1,394). Each group was randomly matched with an equal number of healthy comparators (without known cardiovascular disease or risk factors). Radiomics analysis was applied to short axis images of the left and right ventricles at end-diastole and end-systole, yielding a total of 684 features per study. Sequential forward feature selection in combination with machine learning (ML) algorithms (support vector machine, random forest, and logistic regression) were used to build radiomics signatures for each specific risk group. We evaluated the degree of separation achieved by the identified radiomics signatures using area under curve (AUC), receiver operating characteristic (ROC), and statistical testing. Logistic regression with L1-regularization was the optimal ML model. Compared to conventional imaging indices, radiomics signatures improved the discrimination of risk factor vs. healthy subgroups as assessed by AUC [diabetes: 0.80 vs. 0.70, hypertension: 0.72 vs. 0.69, high cholesterol: 0.71 vs. 0.65, current smoker: 0.68 vs. 0.65, previous smoker: 0.63 vs. 0.60]. Furthermore, we considered clinical interpretation of risk-specific radiomics signatures. For hypertensive individuals and previous smokers, the surface area to volume ratio was smaller in the risk factor vs. healthy subjects; perhaps reflecting a pattern of global concentric hypertrophy in these conditions. In the diabetes subgroup, the most discriminatory radiomics feature was the median intensity of the myocardium at end-systole, which suggests a global alteration at the myocardial tissue level. This study confirms the feasibility and potential of CMR radiomics for deeper image phenotyping of cardiovascular health and disease. We demonstrate such analysis may have utility beyond conventional CMR metrics for improved detection and understanding of the early effects of cardiovascular risk factors on cardiac structure and tissue.

Original publication




Journal article


Frontiers in cardiovascular medicine

Publication Date





BCN MedTech, Department of Information and Communication Technologies, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain.