Variations in local magnetic susceptibility may induce magnetic field gradients that affect the signals acquired for MR imaging. Under appropriate diffusion conditions, such fields produce effects similar to slow chemical exchange. These effects may also be found in combination with other chemical exchange processes at multiple time scales. We investigate these effects with simulations and measurements to determine their contributions to rotating frame (R1ρ ) relaxation in model systems. Simulations of diffusive and chemical exchange effects on R1ρ dispersion were performed using the Bloch equations. Additionally, R1ρ dispersion was measured in suspensions of Sephadex and latex beads with varying spin locking fields at 9.4 T. A novel analysis method was used to iteratively fit for apparent chemical and diffusive exchange rates with a model by Chopra et al. Single- and double-inflection points in R1ρ dispersion profiles were observed, respectively, in simulations of slow diffusive exchange alone and when combined with rapid chemical exchange. These simulations were consistent with measurements of R1ρ in latex bead suspensions and small-diameter Sephadex beads that showed single- and double-inflection points, respectively. These observations, along with measurements following changes in temperature and pH, are consistent with the combined effects of slow diffusion and rapid -OH exchange processes.
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