Evaluation of a PEGylated Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 Variant Using Novel Preclinical Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Magnetic Resonance Elastography in a Mouse Model of Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis

Haiying Tang, Jiahui Li, Bradley Zinker, Stephanie Boehm, Amy Mauer, Sandra Rex-Rabe, Kevin J. Glaser, Matthew Fronheiser, Thomas Bradstreet, Yasuhiko Nakao, Thomas Petrone, Adrienne Pena, MacKenzie Villano, Patrick Chow, Harmeet Malhi, Edgar D. Charles, Wendy Hayes, Richard L. Ehman, Shuyan Du, Meng Yin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Treatments for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) are urgently needed. Hepatic fat fraction and shear stiffness quantified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI-HFF) and magnetic resonance elastography (MRE-SS), respectively, are biomarkers for hepatic steatosis and fibrosis. Purpose: This study assessed the longitudinal effects of fibroblast growth factor 21 variant (polyethylene glycol [PEG]-FGF21v) on MRI-HFF and MRE-SS in a NASH mouse model. Study Type: Preclinical. Animal Model: This study included a choline-deficient, amino acid-defined, high-fat diet (CDAHFD) model and 6-week-old, male C57BL/6J mice (N = 78). Field Strength/Sequence: This study was performed using: 3T: gradient-echo two-point Dixon and spin-echo (SE) echo-planar imaging elastography (200 Hz) and 7T: SE two-point Dixon and SE elastography (200 Hz). Assessment: MRI and MRE were performed before control diet (CD) or CDAHFD (BD), before PEG-FGF21v dosing (baseline), and after PEG-FGF21v treatment (WK4/8). Regions of interest for MRI-HFF and MRE-SS were delineated by J.L. and H.T. (>5 years of experience each). Fibrosis and steatosis were measured histologically after picrosirius red and H&E staining. Alkaline phosphatase, alanine transaminase, bile acids, and triglycerides (TGs) were measured. Statistical Tests: Two-tailed Dunnett's tests were used for statistical analysis; untreated CDAHFD or baseline was used for comparisons. Imaging and histology/biochemistry data were determined using Spearman correlations. Bayesian posterior distributions for MRE-SS at WK8, posterior means, and 95% credible intervals were presented. Results: CDAHFD significantly increased baseline MRI-HFF (3T: 21.97% ± 0.29%; 7T: 40.12% ± 0.35%) and MRE-SS (3T: 1.25 ± 0.02; 7T: 1.78 ± 0.06 kPa) vs. CD (3T: 3.45% ± 0.7%; 7T: 12.06% ± 1.4% and 3T: 1.01 ± 0.02; 7T: 0.89 ± 0.06 kPa). At 7T, PEG-FGF21v significantly decreased MRI-HFF (WK4: 28.97% ± 1.22%; WK8: 20.93% ± 1.15%) and MRE-SS (WK4: 1.57 ± 0.04; WK8: 1.36 ± 0.05 kPa) vs. untreated (WK4: 36.36% ± 0.62%; WK8: 30.58% ± 0.81% and WK4: 2.03 ± 0.06; WK8: 2.01 ± 0.04 kPa); 3T trends were similar. WK8 SS posterior mean percent attenuation ratios (RDI) were −68% (−90%, −44%; 3T) and −64% (−78%, −52%; 7T). MRI-HFF was significantly correlated with H&E (3T, r = 0.93; 7T, r = 0.94) and TGs (both, r = 0.92). Data Conclusions: MRI-HFF and MRE-SS showed PEG-FGF21v effects on hepatic steatosis and fibrosis across 3 and 7T, consistent with histological and biochemical data. Level of Evidence: 1. Technical Efficacy Stage: 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)712-724
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • FGF21
  • MR elastography
  • NASH
  • forward- and back-translation
  • longitudinal
  • preclinical noninvasive imaging biomarker

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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