This study aimed to elucidate the utility of a novel ultrasound-based technique, shear wave dispersion slope (SWDS) analysis, which estimates tissue viscosity, for evaluating the severity of myocardial inflammation. Experimental autoimmune myocarditis (EAM) at different disease phases [3-week (acute phase): n = 10, 5-week (subacute phase): n = 9, and 7-week (late phase): n = 11] were developed in male Lewis rats. SWDS was measured in the right and the left ventricular free walls (RVFW and LVFW) under a retrograde perfusion condition. Histological myocardial inflammation was evaluated by CD68 staining. The accumulation of CD68-positive cells was severe in the myocardium of the EAM 3-week group. The median (interquartile range) SWDS of RVFW was significantly higher in the EAM 3-week group [9.9 (6.5–11.0) m/s/kHz] than in the control group [5.4 (4.5–6.8) m/s/kHz] (P = 0.034). The median SWDS of LVFW was also significantly higher in the EAM 3-week group [8.1 (6.4–11.0) m/s/kHz] than in the control group [4.4 (4.2–4.8) m/s/kHz] (P = 0.003). SWDS and the percentage of CD68-positive area showed a significant correlation in RVFW (R2 = 0.64, P < 0.001) and LVFW (R2 = 0.73, P < 0.001). This study showed that SWDS was elevated in ventricular walls with acute inflammation and also significantly correlated with the degree of myocardial inflammation. These results suggest the potential of SWDS in estimating the histological severity of acute myocarditis.
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