Evaluating the feasibility of creatine-weighted CEST MRI in human brain at 7 T using a Z-spectral fitting approach

Anup Singh, Ayan Debnath, Kejia Cai, Puneet Bagga, Mohammad Haris, Hari Hariharan, Ravinder Reddy

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The current study aims to evaluate the feasibility of creatine (Cr) chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST)-weighted MRI at 7 T in the human brain by optimizing the saturation pulse parameters and computing contrast using a Z-spectral fitting approach. The Cr-weighted (Cr-w) CEST contrast was computed from phantoms data. Simulations were carried out to obtain the optimum saturation parameters for Cr-w CEST with lower contribution from other brain metabolites. CEST-w images were acquired from the brains of four human subjects at different saturation parameters. The Cr-w CEST contrast was computed using both asymmetry analysis and Z-spectra fitting approaches (models 1 and 2, respectively) based on Lorentzian functions. For broad magnetization transfer (MT) effect, Gaussian and Super-Lorentzian line shapes were also evaluated. In the phantom study, the Cr-w CEST contrast showed a linear dependence on concentration in physiological range and a nonlinear dependence on saturation parameters. The in vivo Cr-w CEST map generated using asymmetry analysis from the brain represents mixed contrast with contribution from other metabolites as well and relayed nuclear Overhauser effect (rNOE). Simulations provided an estimate for the optimum range of saturation parameters to be used for acquiring brain CEST data. The optimum saturation parameters for Cr-w CEST to be used for brain data were around B1rms = 1.45 μT and duration = 2 seconds. The Z-spectral fitting approach enabled computation of individual components. This also resulted in mitigating the contribution from MT and rNOE to Cr-w CEST contrast, which is a major source of underestimation in asymmetry analysis. The proposed modified z-spectra fitting approach (model 2) is more stable to noise compared with model 1. Cr-w CEST contrast obtained using fitting was 6.98 ± 0.31% in gray matter and 5.45 ± 0.16% in white matter. Optimal saturation parameters reduced the contribution from other CEST effects to Cr-w CEST contrast, and the proposed Z-spectral fitting approach enabled computation of individual components in Z-spectra of the brain. Therefore, it is feasible to compute Cr-w CEST contrast with a lower contribution from other CEST and rNOE.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4176
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019



  • chemical exchange saturation transfer
  • creatine
  • creatine-weighted chemical exchange saturation transfer
  • Lorentzian
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • Z-spectra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy

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