A new imaging method has been developed for quantitatively measuring magnetization transfer (MT). It uses a simple inversion recovery sequence, although one with very short (milliseconds) inversion times, and thus can be implemented on clinical imaging systems with little modification to existing pulse sequences. The sequence requires an inversion pulse with a length much longer than T(2m) (typically 10 micros) and much shorter than T(2f) (typically tens of ms) and 1/k(mf) (typically tens of ms), where T(2m) and T(2f) are the transverse relaxation times of the immobile macromolecular and free water protons, respectively, and k(mf) is the rate of MT between these populations. The resultant NMR signal is sensitive to MT when this inversion pulse affects the mobile and immobile proton pools to different degrees and by appropriate analysis of the signals obtained for different inversion times, quantitative information can be derived on the macromolecular content and exchange rates within the sample. The method has been used in conjunction with echo planar imaging to produce maps of the spatial distribution of the macromolecular content and MT rate in cross-linked bovine serum albumin. Comparisons between this method and other quantitative MT techniques are discussed.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.