Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism
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Tissue pH is an indicator of altered cellular metabolism in diseases including stroke and cancer. Ischemic tissue often becomes acidic due to increased anaerobic respiration leading to irreversible cellular damage. Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) effects can be used to generate pH-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast, which has been used to delineate the ischemic penumbra after ischemic stroke. In the current study, a novel MRI ratiometric technique is presented to measure absolute pH using the ratio of CEST-mediated contrast from amine and amide protons: amine/amide concentration-independent detection (AACID). Effects of CEST were observed at 2.75 parts per million (p.p.m.) for amine protons and at 3.50 p.p.m. for amide protons downfield (i.e., higher frequency) from bulk water. Using numerical simulations and in vitro MRI experiments, we showed that pH measured using AACID was independent of tissue relaxation time constants, macromolecular magnetization transfer effects, protein concentration, and temperature within the physiologic range. After in vivo pH calibration using phosphorus ( 31P) magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P-MRS), local acidosis is detected in mouse brain after focal permanent middle cerebral artery occlusion. In summary, our results suggest that AACID represents a noninvasive method to directly measure the spatial distribution of absolute pH in vivo using CEST MRI. © 2014 ISCBFM All rights reserved.