Internal gradient distributions: A susceptibility-derived tensor delivering morphologies by magnetic resonance | Scientific Reports

Posted on Updated on

Gonzalo A. Álvarez, Noam Shemesh & Lucio Frydman

Scientific Reports 7, 3311 (2017)


Nuclear magnetic resonance is a powerful tool for probing the structures of chemical and biological systems. Combined with field gradients it leads to NMR imaging (MRI), a widespread tool in non-invasive examinations. Sensitivity usually limits MRI’s spatial resolution to tens of micrometers, but other sources of information like those delivered by constrained diffusion processes, enable one extract morphological information down to micron and sub-micron scales. We report here on a new method that also exploits diffusion – isotropic or anisotropic– to sense morphological parameters in the nm-mm range, based on distributions of susceptibility-induced magnetic field gradients. A theoretical framework is developed to define this source of information, leading to the proposition of internal gradient-distribution tensors. Gradient-based spin-echo sequences are designed to measure these new observables. These methods can be used to map orientations even when dealing with unconstrained diffusion, as is here demonstrated with studies of structured systems, including tissues.

Source: Internal gradient distributions: A susceptibility-derived tensor delivering morphologies by magnetic resonance | Scientific Reports


Mapping Internal Gradient Distribution Tensors (IGDT) in biological tissues
Mapping IGDT in biological tissues. (a) IGDT eigenvalues observed for a spinal cord specimen, examined in a 10 mm NMR tube filled with Fluorinert® (cartoon in center exemplifies this model phantom). (b) Color-coded orientation maps generated from the directions of the first eigenvector (the one with lowest eigenvalue) with respect to the main magnetic field [red: z-axis (up-down), blue: x-axis (in-out), green: y-axis (left-right)]. The vector magnitude was weighted with a fractional anisotropy to highlight its orientation. Parameters for the NOGSE MRI measurements were: TR/TE = 4000/50 ms, resolution = 156 × 156 × 1000 μm3, six pairs of opposing-gradient NOGSE encodings according to the orientations given in Fig. 3, NA = 4, G = 35 G/cm, total number of NOGSE oscillations of ten, total NOGSE gradient modulation time =20 ms. A T 2~50–60 ms was measured in these white matter experiments, and the shortest delay x was 140 μs. (c) Microscopic DTI tensor determined from the sNOGSE amplitude modulation Δβ S is shown for comparison to demonstrate the consistency of the orientations. EPI sequences were used for collecting all images, the typical SNR was >35 at its lowest. A full set of measurements took 13 minutes to complete.