We have previously reported that the dispersion of spin-lattice relaxation rates in the rotating frame (R ) of tissue water protons at high field can be dominated by chemical exchange contributions. Ischemia in brain causes changes in tissue pH, which in turn may affect proton exchange rates. Amide proton transfer (APT, a form of chemical exchange saturation transfer) has been shown to be sensitive to chemical exchange rates and able to detect pH changes non-invasively following ischemic stroke. However, the specificity of APT to pH changes is decreased because of the influence of several other factors that affect magnetization transfer. R is less influenced by such confounding factors and thus may be more specific for detecting variations in pH. Here, we applied a spin-locking sequence to detect ischemic stroke in animal models. Although R images acquired with a single spin-locking amplitude (ω ) have previously been used to assess stroke, here we use ΔR , which is the difference in R values acquired with two different locking fields to emphasize selectively the contribution of chemical exchange effects. Numerical simulations with different exchange rates and measurements of tissue homogenates with different pH were performed to evaluate the specificity of ΔR to detect tissue acidosis. Spin-lock and APT data were acquired on five rat brains after ischemic strokes induced via middle cerebral artery occlusions. Correlations between these data were analyzed at different time points after the onset of stroke. The results show that ΔR (but not R acquired with a single ω ) was significantly correlated with APT metrics consistent with ΔR varying with pH.
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