PLoS One 2019 17;14(4):e0215210. Epub 2019 Apr 17.
Section on Magnetic Spectroscopy, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, United States of America.
Purpose: The principal excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate plays an important role in many central nervous system disorders. Because glutamate resides predominantly in glutamatergic neurons, its relaxation properties reflect the intracellular environment of glutamatergic neurons. This study developed an improved echo time-independent technique for measuring transverse relaxation time and demonstrated that this radio frequency (RF)-driven longitudinal steady state technique can reliably measure glutamate transverse relaxation in the frontal cortex, where structural and functional abnormalities have been associated with psychiatric symptoms.
Method: Bloch and Monte Carlo simulations were performed to improve and optimize the RF-driven, longitudinal, steady-state (MARzss) technique to significantly shorten scan time and increase measurement precision. Optimized four-flip angle measurements at 0°,12°, 24°, and 36° with matched repetition time were used in nine human subjects (6F, 3M; 27-49 years old) at 7 Tesla. Longitudinal and transverse relaxation rates for glutamate were measured from a 2 x 2 x 2 cm3 voxel placed in three different brain regions: gray matter-dominated medial prefrontal lobe, white matter-dominated left frontal lobe, and gray matter-dominated occipital lobe.
Results: Compared to the original MARzss technique, the scan time per voxel for measuring glutamate transverse relaxation was shortened by more than 50%. In the medial frontal, left frontal, and occipital voxels, the glutamate T2 was found to be 117.5±12.9 ms (mean ± standard deviation, n = 9), 107.3±12.1 (n = 9), and 124.4±16.6 ms (n = 8), respectively.
Conclusions: The improvements described in this study make the MARZSS technique a viable tool for reliably measuring glutamate relaxation from human subjects in a typical clinical setting. It is expected that this improved technique can be applied to characterize the intracellular environment of glutamatergic neurons in a variety of brain disorders.
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