Autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT) is the most common autoimmune thyroid disease. Longitudinal relaxation time mapping (T1-mapping) measured by MRI is a new technique for assessing interstitial fibrosis of some organs, such as heart and liver. This study aimed to evaluate the relationship between T1-mapping value and thyroid function and determine the usefulness of T1-mapping in identifying thyroid destruction in AIT patients.
This case–control study recruited 57 drug-naïve AIT patients and 17 healthy controls. All participants were given thyroid MRI, and T1-mapping values were measured using a modified look-locker inversion-recovery sequence.
AIT patients had significantly higher thyroid T1-mapping values than the healthy controls (1.077 ± 177 vs 778 ± 82.9 ms; P < 0.01). A significant increase in thyroid T1-mapping values was presented along with the increased severity of thyroid dysfunction (P < 0.01). Correlation analyses showed that increased thyroid T1-mapping values were associated with higher TSH and lower FT3 and FT4 levels (TSH: r = 0.75; FT3: r = −0.47; FT4: r = −0.72; all P < 0.01). Receiver-operating characteristic curve analysis revealed a high diagnostic value of T1-mapping values for the degree of thyroid destruction (area under the curve was 0.95, 95% CI: 0.90–0.99, P < 0.01).
AIT patients have higher thyroid T1-mapping values than the healthy controls, and the T1-mapping values increased with the progression of thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid T1-mapping value might be a new index to quantitatively evaluate the degree of thyroid destruction in AIT patients.