Non-invasive thermal imaging of cardiac remodeling in mice

Rafael Y. Brzezinski, Zehava Ovadia-Blechman, Nir Lewis, Neta Rabin, Yair Zimmer, Lapaz Levin-Kotler, Olga Tepper-Shaihov, Nili Naftali-Shani, Olga Tsoref, Grossman Ehud, Jonathan Leor, Oshrit Hoffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thermal infrared imaging has been suggested as a non-invasive alternative to monitor physiological processes and disease. However, the use of this technique to image internal organs, such as the heart, has not yet been investigated. We sought to determine the ability of our novel thermal image-processing algorithm to detect structural and functional changes in a mouse model of hypertension and cardiac remodeling. Twelve mice were randomly assigned to receive either the pro-inflammatory, hypertensive hormone angiotensin-II (2 mg/kg/day, n = 6) or saline (n = 6) infusion for 28 days. We performed weekly blood pressure measurements, together with serial trans-thoracic echocardiography studies and histopathological evaluation of the hearts. Thermal images were captured with a commercially available thermal camera, and images were processed by our novel algorithm which analyzes relative spatial temperature variation across the animal’s thorax. We assessed cardiac inflammation by measuring inflammatory cell infiltration through flow cytometry. Angiotensin infusion increased blood pressure together with cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. Thermal imaging at day 28 of the experiment detected an increase in the fraction of the skin heated by the heart in angiotensin-treated mice. Thermal image findings were significantly correlated to left ventricular volume and mass parameters seen on echocardiography (r = 0.8, p < 0.01 and r = 0.6, p = 0.07). We also identified distinct changes in the spatial heat profiles of all angiotensin-treated hearts, possibly reflecting remodeling processes in the hypertensive heart. Finally, a machine learning based model using thermal imaging parameters predicted intervention status in 10 out of 11 mice similar to a model using echocardiographic measurements. Our findings suggest, for the first time, that a new thermal image-processing algorithm successfully correlates surface thermography with cardiac structural changes in mice with hypertensive heart disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6189-6203
Number of pages15
JournalBiomedical Optics Express
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


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