Non-Invasive Assessment of Coronary Endothelial Function in Children and Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus Using Isometric Handgrip Exercise-MRI: A Feasibility Study


Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in children and adolescents is associated with significant cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Early detection of vascular dysfunction is key to patient management yet current assessment techniques are invasive and not suitable for pediatric patient populations. A novel approach using isometric handgrip exercise during magnetic resonance imaging (IHE-MRI) has recently been developed to evaluate coronary endothelial function non-invasively in adults. This project aimed to assess endothelium-dependent coronary arterial response to IHE-MRI in children with T1DM and in age matched healthy controls.


Healthy volunteers and children with T1DM (>5 years) were recruited. IHE-MRI cross-sectional coronary artery area measurements were recorded at rest and under stress. Carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) and aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV) were assessed for comparison. Student’s t-tests were used to compare results between groups.


Seven children with T1DM (3 female, median 14.8 years, mean 14.8 ± 1.9 years) and 16 healthy controls (7 female, median 14.8 years, mean 14.2 ± 2.4 years) participated. A significant increase in stress-induced cross-sectional coronary area was measured in controls (5.4 mm2 at rest to 6.39 mm2 under stress, 18.8 ± 10.7%, p = 0.0004). In contrast, mean area change in patients with T1DM was not significant (7.17 mm2 at rest to 7.59 mm2 under stress, 10.5% ± 28.1%, p = n.s.). There was no significant difference in the results for neither PWV nor CIMT between patients and controls, (5.3±1.5 m/s vs.4.8±0.7 m/s and 0.4±0.03mm vs.0.46 mm ± 0.03 respectively, both p = n.s.).


Our pilot study demonstrates the feasibility of using a totally non-invasive IHE-MRI technique in children and adolescents with and without T1DM. Preliminary results suggest a blunted endothelium-dependent coronary vasomotor function in children with T1DM (>5 years). Better knowledge and new methodologies may improve surveillance and care for T1DM patients to reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.