This study was designed to evaluate the influence of age on the dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI of ischemic tissue. A well-established model of peripheral arterial insufficiency (i.e., the rat hindlimb ischemia after removal of femoral artery) in different age groups (i.e., young, presenescent, and senescent rats) was studied. The analysis of the MR signal demonstrated a marked accumulation of a contrast agent (Gd-DTPA) in the ischemic leg (ischemia-related enhancement, IRE). IRE was an age-related event: 4-month-old rats showed a strong IRE while 12-month-old rats and 20-month old rats showed a Significantly reduced IRE in comparison to young animals. Histological analysis of the ischemic muscles revealed that there was no evidence of significant necrosis of the muscle tissue but only a weak interstitial fibrosis; CD31-immunostaining revealed a preserved microcirculatory bed.
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