Rapid and quantitative chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) imaging with magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF)

Ouri Cohen, Shuning Huang, Michael T Mcmahon, Matthew S. Rosen, Christian T. Farrar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: To develop a fast magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) method for quantitative chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) imaging. Methods: We implemented a CEST-MRF method to quantify the chemical exchange rate and volume fraction of the Nα-amine protons of L-arginine (L-Arg) phantoms and the amide and semi-solid exchangeable protons of in vivo rat brain tissue. L-Arg phantoms were made with different concentrations (25-100mM) and pH (pH4-6). The MRF acquisition schedule varied the saturation power randomly for 30 iterations (phantom: 0-6μT; in vivo: 0-4μT) with a total acquisition time of ≤2min. The signal trajectories were pattern-matched to a large dictionary of signal trajectories simulated using the Bloch-McConnell equations for different combinations of exchange rate, exchangeable proton volume fraction, and water T1 and T2 relaxation times. Results: The chemical exchange rates of the Nα-amine protons of L-Arg were significantly (P<0.0001) correlated with the rates measured with the quantitation of exchange using saturation power method. Similarly, the L-Arg concentrations determined using MRF were significantly (P<0.0001) correlated with the known concentrations. The pH dependence of the exchange rate was well fit (R2=0.9186) by a base catalyzed exchange model. The amide proton exchange rate measured in rat brain cortex (34.8±11.7Hz) was in good agreement with that measured previously with the water exchange spectroscopy method (28.6±7.4Hz). The semi-solid proton volume fraction was elevated in white (12.2±1.7%) compared to gray (8.1± 1.1%) matter brain regions in agreement with previous magnetization transfer studies. Conclusion: CEST-MRF provides a method for fast, quantitative CEST imaging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Amide proton
  • Chemical exchange rate
  • Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST)
  • Magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF)
  • PH
  • Semi-solid proton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

Cite this