Hyperpolarized proton MRI used to observe metabolic processe
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MRI is already widely used for diagnostic purposes. Hyperpolarized MRI is a more recent development and its research and application potential has yet to be fully explored. Researchers have now unveiled a new technique for observing metabolic processes in the body. Their single-contrast MRI method employs easily produced parahydrogen to track biochemical processes in real time.

Hyperpolarization?enhanced magnetic resonance imaging can be used to study biomolecular processes in the body, but typically requires nuclei such as C-13, N-15, or Xe-129 due to their long spin?polarization lifetimes and the absence of a proton?background signal from water and fat in the images. Here researchers present a novel type of H-1 imaging, in which hyperpolarized spin order is locked in a nonmagnetic long?lived correlated (singlet) state, and is only liberated for imaging by a specific biochemical reaction.

In this work, they produce hyperpolarized fumarate via a chemical reaction of a precursor molecule with para?enriched hydrogen gas, and the proton singlet order in fumarate is released as antiphase NMR signals by enzymatic conversion to malate in D2O.

Using this model system investigators show two pulse sequences to rephase the NMR signals for imaging and suppress the background signals from water.

The hyperpolarization?enhanced H?1 imaging modality presented here can allow for hyperpolarized imaging without the need for low?abundance, low?sensitivity heteronuclei.

Angewandte Chemie
Source: https://doi.org/10.1002/anie.202014933