Mapping glutamate in subcortical brain structures using high-resolution GluCEST MRI

Kejia Cai, Anup Singh, David R. Roalf, Ravi Prakash Reddy Nanga, Mohammad Haris, Hari Hariharan, Ruben Gur, Ravinder Reddy

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36 Citations (Scopus)


In vivo measurement of glutamate (Glu) in brain subcortex can elucidate the role these structures play in cognition and neuropsychiatric disorders. However, accurate quantification of Glu in subcortical regions is challenging. Recently, a novel MRI method based on the Glu chemical exchange saturation transfer (GluCEST) effect has been developed for detecting brain Glu in millimolar concentrations. Here, we use GluCEST to map Glu distributions in subcortical structures of the human brain (e.g. amygdala, hippocampus). Overall, GluCEST was ~40% higher in gray matter than in white matter. Within the subcortical gray matters, amygdala showed the highest GluCEST contrast. Utilizing MR spectroscopic data, in vivo GluCEST detection sensitivity (~0.8% mM-1) in subcortical gray matter was evaluated and was consistent with the previously reported values. In general, the GluCEST map approximates the Glu receptor distribution reported in previous positron emission tomography (PET) studies. These findings suggest that high-resolution GluCEST MRI of subcortical brain structures may prove to be a useful tool in diagnosis of brain disorders or treatment responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1278-1284
Number of pages7
JournalNMR in Biomedicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes



  • Amygdala
  • Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST)
  • Glutamate
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
  • Subcortical brain structures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this

Cai, K., Singh, A., Roalf, D. R., Nanga, R. P. R., Haris, M., Hariharan, H., Gur, R., & Reddy, R. (2013). Mapping glutamate in subcortical brain structures using high-resolution GluCEST MRI. NMR in Biomedicine, 26(10), 1278-1284.