Nuclear magnetic relaxation dispersion of murine tissue for development of T1 (R1) dispersion contrast imaging
NMR in Biomedicine
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This study quantified the spin–lattice relaxation rate (R1) dispersion of murine tissues from 0.24 mT to 3 T. A combination of ex vivo and in vivo spin–lattice relaxation rate measurements were acquired for murine tissue. Selected brain, liver, kidney, muscle, and fat tissues were excised and R1 dispersion profiles were acquired from 0.24 mT to 1.0 T at 37 °C, using a fast field-cycling MR (FFC-MR) relaxometer. In vivo R1 dispersion profiles of mice were acquired from 1.26 T to 1.74 T at 37 °C, using FFC-MRI on a 1.5 T scanner outfitted with a field-cycling insert electromagnet to dynamically control B0 prior to imaging. Images at five field strengths (1.26, 1.39, 1.5, 1.61, 1.74 T) were acquired using a field-cycling pulse sequence, where B0 was modulated for varying relaxation durations prior to imaging. R1 maps and R1 dispersion (ΔR1/ΔB0) were calculated at 1.5 T on a pixel-by-pixel basis. In addition, in vivo R1 maps of mice were acquired at 3 T. At fields less than 1 T, a large R1 magnetic field dependence was observed for tissues. ROI analysis of the tissues showed little relaxation dispersion for magnetic fields from 1.26 T to 3 T. Our tissue measurements show strong R1 dispersion at field strengths less than 1 T and limited R1 dispersion at field strengths greater than 1 T. These findings emphasize the inherent weak R1 magnetic field dependence of healthy tissues at clinical field strengths. This characteristic of tissues can be exploited by a combination of FFC-MRI and T1 contrast agents that exhibit strong relaxivity magnetic field dependences (inherent or by binding to a protein), thereby increasing the agents' specificity and sensitivity. This development can provide potential insights into protein-based biomarkers using FFC-MRI to assess early changes in tumour development, which are not easily measureable with conventional MRI.