Direct Magnetic Resonance Determination of Aortic Distensibility in Essential Hypertension: Relation to Age, Abdominal Visceral Fat, and In Situ Intracellular Free Magnesium

Lawrence M. Resnick, Daniela Militianu, Amy J. Cunnings, James G. Pipe, Jeffrey L. Evelhoch, Renate L. Soulen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

156 Scopus citations


To investigate the contribution of vascular compliance to essential hypertension (EH), we developed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to directly measure aortic distensibility (AD) in the ascending and descending thoracic and abdominal aorta of fasting normal (n = 10) and EH (n = 20) subjects. These results were compared with concurrent MR-based measurements of left ventricular mass index (LVMI) and abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat and with P-MR spectroscopic measurement of in situ intracellular free magnesium levels (Mgi) in brain and skeletal muscle. Aortic distensibility in EH was consistently and significantly reduced at all measured sites (2.5 +/- 0.4, 2.2 +/- 0.4, 2.3 +/- 0.4 versus 7.0 +/- 1.6, 5.1 +/- 0.3, 7.3 +/- 0.8 mm Hg-1 x 10-3, P <.05), as was Mgi in the brain (284 +/- 22 versus 383 +/- 34 micro mol/L, P <.05) and skeletal muscle (397 +/- 10 versus 527 +/- 36 micro mol/L, P <.05). For all subjects, systolic blood pressure (r = -.662, P <.0001) and LVMI (r = -.484, P <.01) were inversely related to AD. AD and brain Mgi were inversely related to age (AD, r = -.792, P <.0001; brain Mgi: r = -.673, P <.05). AD was inversely related to fasting blood glucose (r = -.413, P <.05) and to abdominal visceral fat (r = -.416, P <.05) but not to body mass index (BMI: r = -.328, P = NS) or subcutaneous fat (r = -.157, P = NS). AD was also significantly and positively related to in situ Mgi, both in the brain and skeletal muscle (brain: r =.712, P <.01; skeletal muscle: r =.632, P <.01). We conclude that (1) MR techniques can be used to coordinately and noninvasively assess cardiac, vascular, metabolic, and ionic aspects of hypertensive disease in humans; (2) increased systolic blood pressure and LVMI in EH may at least in part result from decreased AD; (3) decreased Mgi contributes to arterial stiffness in hypertension and may help to explain the characteristic age-related decreases in AD; and (4) decreased AD may be one mechanism by which abdominal visceral fat contributes to cardiovascular risk. (Hypertension. 1997;30[part 2]:654-659.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-659
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

Cite this