CEST MRI Applications

Metabolite Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST) to Assess Breast Cancer Aggressiveness

Malignant cancers are characterized by an elevated consumption of glucose, glutamine, and choline, along with an increased production of lactate, phosphocholine, and glycerophosphocholine due to their aberrant metabolism. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) has been used to detect cancer-related metabolites in biopsies and extracted tissues to help improve cancer diagnosis and treatment monitoring, but faces sensitivity limitations with their in vivo detection. Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) is a molecular magnetic resonance (MR) contrast mechanism that detects the exchange of protons in distinct hydroxyl, amine, and amide groups with tissue water, which dramatically improves detection sensitivity. In collaboration with Dr. Michael T. McMahon, we are evaluating CEST-MRI for detecting common cellular metabolites in breast cancer cells and tumor xenografts in vivo.