The research of Arvin Arani, Ph.D., is focused on developing and translating magnetic resonance elastography (MRE) techniques for many clinical applications. Tissue biomechanics change with disease states; MRE is capable of noninvasively and quantitatively measuring tissue biomechanics during standard magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams. As a result, MRE has become valuable for both disease diagnosis and for monitoring disease progression in many organs.
Currently, Dr. Arani is focused on understanding the impact of menopause transition on myocardial stiffness in women. This work will help evaluate the prognostic value of cardiac MRE for women who are at risk of developing heart failure.
Dr. Arani also has a keen focus on standardizing MRI protocols for multicenter clinical trials. He helped develop MRI protocols for several trials, including the 2016 multi-institutional Alzheimer's disease neuroimaging initiative (ADNI 3) project.
- MRE in the heart. Dr. Arani's research group was the first to demonstrate high-frequency cardiac MRE in normal volunteers and was able to show that MRE can quantitatively measure differences in myocardial stiffness in patients with heart failure. This work has led to discovering the potential impact of menopause transition on the disproportionate acceleration in myocardial stiffness in women as compared to men. Stiffness may be a large contributor to the underpinning mechanism responsible for the elevated heart failure hospitalization rates in older women. MRE may be a novel technique capable of improving diagnostic and prognostic accuracy, and a potentially powerful technique for monitoring therapies.
- MRE in other organs. Dr. Arani translates prostate MRE from a benchtop idea into a feasible clinical application. In brain biomechanics, he has helped establish normal values, shed light on understanding sex differences, and demonstrated the impact of intracranial pressure on parenchymal biomechanical properties.
- MRI neuroimaging and multicenter studies. Intricate details of gradient technologies and machine specifications, both within vendor and across vendors, can significantly alter imaging performance and potential clinical outcomes. Standardizing protocols with these details in mind helps scientists and clinicians avoid these biases and is a crucial step to ensuring the success of multicenter trials. Dr. Arani has developed experimental techniques to help standardize imaging contrast across different platforms, improving the ability to compare clinical neurological exams across different vendors. His work has led to many valuable findings with MR spectroscopy, MR perfusion and quantitative susceptibility imaging.
- Image processing and technical development. In order to translate and develop many projects into clinical practice and improve experimental workflow, Dr. Arani has developed new software packages (such as fast and efficient wave simulation software) to train new neural networks for MRE inversions that improve stiffness reconstruction accuracy. His semiautomated image processing pipelines have been used to analyze, test, and validate new MRE acquisition methods, and to quantitate live-dead analysis for cell viability.
Significance to patient care
Heart failure hospitalization rates disproportionately increase in women as they age, and a large proportion of these women present with normal left ventricle (LV) ejection fraction (more than 50%). Dr. Arani's group hypothesizes that hormonal changes during menopause transition accelerate myocardial stiffening and are a major contributor to this trend. Elevated myocardial stiffness is both a precursor and a biological response to a spectrum of cardiovascular diseases that account for 1 in 10 U.S. deaths annually. However, this condition can go undetected prior to heart failure because even though poor function and restrictive diastolic filling are present, normal LV ejection fraction is preserved.
Dr. Arani's research group has developed cardiac MRE (cMRE): a quantitative, noninvasive measure of myocardial stiffness. The development of novel imaging techniques provides more-sensitive tools for detecting biological changes prior to the onset of clinical symptoms. Early detection is key to improving patient care since less severe therapeutic interventions can be implemented prior to the development of negative life-changing symptoms.
- K12 Scholar, Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH), Mayo Clinic, 2020-2023
- Junior Fellow, International Society of Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 2019
- Recipient, Postdoctoral Fellowship Award, American Heart Association, 2016-2018