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BACKGROUND:Myocardial disarray is a likely focus for fatal arrhythmia in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This microstructural abnormality can be inferred by mapping the preferential diffusion of water along cardiac muscle fibers using diffusion tensor cardiac magnetic resonance (DT-CMR) imaging. Fractional anisotropy (FA) quantifies directionality of diffusion in 3 dimensions. The authors hypothesized that FA would be reduced in HCM due to disarray and fibrosis that may represent the anatomic substrate for ventricular arrhythmia. OBJECTIVES:This study sought to assess FA as a noninvasive in vivo biomarker of HCM myoarchitecture and its association with ventricular arrhythmia. METHODS:A total of 50 HCM patients (47 ± 15 years of age, 77% male) and 30 healthy control subjects (46 ± 16 years of age, 70% male) underwent DT-CMR in diastole, cine, late gadolinium enhancement (LGE), and extracellular volume (ECV) imaging at 3-T. RESULTS:Diastolic FA was reduced in HCM compared with control subjects (0.49 ± 0.05 vs. 0.52 ± 0.03; p = 0.0005). Control subjects had a mid-wall ring of high FA. In HCM, this ring was disrupted by reduced FA, consistent with published histology demonstrating that disarray and fibrosis invade circumferentially aligned mid-wall myocytes. LGE and ECV were significant predictors of FA, in line with fibrosis contributing to low FA. Yet FA adjusted for LGE and ECV remained reduced in HCM (p = 0.028). FA in the hypertrophied segment was reduced in HCM patients with ventricular arrhythmia compared to patients without (n = 15; 0.41 ± 0.03 vs. 0.46 ± 0.06; p = 0.007). A decrease in FA of 0.05 increased odds of ventricular arrhythmia by 2.5 (95% confidence interval: 1.2 to 5.3; p = 0.015) in HCM and remained significant even after correcting for LGE, ECV, and wall thickness (p = 0.036). CONCLUSIONS:DT-CMR assessment of left ventricular myoarchitecture matched patterns reported previously on histology. Low diastolic FA in HCM was associated with ventricular arrhythmia and is likely to represent disarray after accounting for fibrosis. The authors propose that diastolic FA could be the first in vivo marker of disarray in HCM and a potential independent risk factor.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Publication Date





2493 - 2502


Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.