High Spatial Resolution Brain Metabolic Imaging

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OHSU scientists have developed a patent-pending MRI post-processing software that utilizes contrast agents and shutter-speed pharmacokinetic modeling to calculate regional metabolic activity based on intravascular water lifetime measurement.

The primary advantages of the MRI software, compared to existing techniques, include:

• Higher spatial resolution

• Substantially lower cost

• Minimal invasiveness

• Greater distribution and accessibility of MRI instruments


Figure 1:  A neurogliovascular unit chain mechanism. Water exchange processes determine mean water molecule lifetimes in blood (τb, beige), interstitium (τo, aqua), endothelial (τi′, gray), neuroglial (τi, pink), and neuronal (τi″, blue) cell spaces. The equilibrium paracellular (a), simple diffusion (b), facilitated transcellular (c), and active water cycling (d, stars) pathways are indicated, as are “Magistretti steps” (e–g). The OHSU scientists suggest the d steps couple unit metabolic activity from τi" to τb.


The ability to map cerebral metabolic activity is important for diagnosis and therapy monitoring of numerous neurological disorders, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s disease and other senile dementias, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumors.  Cerebral metabolic imaging typically requires the administration of a radio labeled sugar analog which limits the spatial resolution attainable: the voxel volumes are typically 1000 times larger than those of MRI.  This is crucial.  The partial volume averaging effect, which confounds nuclear imaging, makes small lesions appear larger than they really are, and makes the lesion biomarker value smaller than it really is.  The latter allows MRI to detect much smaller lesions than nuclear imaging. 


Figure 2: Below are late-stage MS parametric maps. SSP maps for a 52 year old female advanced RRMS subject. (a) 1H2O R1exv: extensive, chronic WM lesions are hypointense, (b) The kρo map suggests very low resting-state metabolic activity in these significantly demyelinated lesions.



doi: 10.1002/nbm.3294 , NMR Biomed. 2015; 28: 607–623

doi: 10.1002/nbm.3111, NMR Biomed 2014; 27: 760-773

doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.10.035 , Biophysical Journal 101(11) 2833–2842


Licensing Opportunity

Available for all uses outside of cardiac MRI imaging.


Patent Status

PCT Patent Application PCT/US14/65924

U.S. Patent Application 14/543,071


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Arvin Paranjpe
Senior Technology Development Manager
Oregon Health & Science University
(503) 494-8200
William Rooney
Xin Li
Charles Springer, Jr.
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