Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) imaging of amides at 3.5 ppm and fast-exchanging amines at 3 ppm provides a unique means to enhance the sensitivity of detection of, for example, proteins/peptides and neurotransmitters, respectively, and hence can provide important information on molecular composition. However, despite the high sensitivity relative to conventional magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), in practice, CEST often has relatively poor specificity. For example, CEST signals are typically influenced by several confounding effects, including direct water saturation (DS), semi-solid non-specific magnetization transfer (MT), the influence of water relaxation times (T1w ) and nearby overlapping CEST signals. Although several editing techniques have been developed to increase the specificity by removing DS, semi-solid MT and T1w influences, it is still challenging to remove overlapping CEST signals from different exchanging sites. For instance, the amide proton transfer (APT) signal could be contaminated by CEST effects from fast-exchanging amines at 3 ppm and intermediate-exchanging amines at 2 ppm. The current work applies an exchange-dependent relaxation rate (Rex ) to address this problem. Simulations demonstrate that: (1) slowly exchanging amides and fast-exchanging amines have distinct dependences on irradiation powers; and (2) Rex serves as a resonance frequency high-pass filter to selectively reduce CEST signals with resonance frequencies closer to water. These characteristics of Rex provide a means to isolate the APT signal from amines. In addition, previous studies have shown that CEST signals from fast-exchanging amines have no distinct features around their resonance frequencies. However, Rex gives Lorentzian lineshapes centered at their resonance frequencies for fast-exchanging amines and thus can significantly increase the specificity of CEST imaging for amides and fast-exchanging amines.
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