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Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI is a molecular imaging method that has previously been successful at reporting variations in tissue protein and glycogen contents and pH. We have implemented amide proton transfer (APT), a specific form of chemical exchange saturation transfer imaging, at high field (7 T) and used it to study healthy human subjects and patients with multiple sclerosis. The effects of static field inhomogeneities were mitigated using a water saturation shift referencing method to center each z-spectrum on a voxel-by-voxel basis. Contrary to results obtained at lower fields, APT imaging at 7 T revealed significant contrast between white and gray matters, with a higher APT signal apparent within the white matter. Preliminary studies of multiple sclerosis showed that the APT asymmetry varied with the type of lesion examined. An increase in APT asymmetry relative to healthy tissue was found in some lesions. These results indicate the potential utility of APT at high field as a noninvasive biomarker of white matter pathology, providing complementary information to other MRI methods in current clinical use.
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.