Contrast in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain are influenced by complex interactions between water, brain macromolecules and microstructural compenents. The most commonly used MR relaxation-based contrasts change with magnetic field strength, because both T1 and T2 MR relaxation times are field dependent. At higher fields inherent tissue-specific factors, such as bulk magnetic susceptibility due to tissue microstructure and/or biochemical making, affect relaxation thereby influencing MRI contrast. For efficient and adequate use of MR images in neuroscientific research and clinical diagnosis, it is pivotal to understand effects of tissue-related factors on relaxation-based contrasts at clinical (such as 3 Tesla=T) and ultrahigh field (UHF, 7T or above) MRI. The thrust of the proposal is to study the angular dependency of T1 relaxation in human white matter (WM) at 3T and 7T. Our goal is to gain understanding of effects of MR-visible water on the angular dependency of T1 relaxation in WM. Experiments are designed to study the role of the magnetic field strength, axonal diameter and magnetization transfer in the fiber-to-field dependency of MR-visible water and T1 relaxation time. MRI data will be acquired from healthy adult participants at 3T and 7T.
The specific aims of the project are as follows:
AIM 1 : to measure the amplitude of the angular dependency of MR-visible water and T1 relaxation time in WM and study its relationship with WM tracts axonal microstructure, such as axonal diameter.
AIM 2 : to study the magnetic field dependency of the amplitude of MR-visible water and T1 relaxation in WM.
AIM3 : to study the effects of magnetization transfer on the amplitude of the angular dependency of MR-visible water and T1 relaxation time in WM at 3T and 7T. The project adds to our long-term pursuit to advance understanding of biophysical underpinnings of MR contrasts in brain images. Our overarching goal is to improve delineation of tissue morphology by MRI for imaging of normal brain and its disorders in modern neuroimaging.

Public Health Relevance

Contrast in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans is the foundation for the use of MR images both in morphometric brain analyses and diagnosis in clinical radiology. The interactions of bulk water with protons in tissue microstructures provide novel sources of MRI contrasts, such as the relaxation anisotropy. Relaxation anisotropy is an underexplored contrast that is expected to greatly increase neurobiological information obtained from brain tissue microstructure by clinical and ultrahigh field MRI scanners.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Clinical Translational Imaging Science Study Section (CTIS)
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Liu, Guoying
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Medicine
United States
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