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PURPOSE: To investigate the potential effects of [1-13 C]lactate RF saturation pulses on [13 C]bicarbonate detection in hyperpolarized [1-13 C]pyruvate MRI of the brain. METHODS: Thirteen healthy rats underwent MRI with hyperpolarized [1-13 C]pyruvate of either the brain (n = 8) or the kidneys, heart, and liver (n = 5). Dynamic, metabolite-selective imaging was used in a cross-over experiment in which [1-13 C]lactate was excited with either 0° or 90° flip angles. The [13 C]bicarbonate SNR and apparent [1-13 C]pyruvate-to-[13 C]bicarbonate conversion (kPB ) were determined. Furthermore, simulations were performed to identify the SNR optimal flip-angle scheme for detection of [1-13 C]lactate and [13 C]bicarbonate. RESULTS: In the brain, the [13 C]bicarbonate SNR was 64% higher when [1-13 C]lactate was not excited (5.8 ± 1.5 vs 3.6 ± 1.3; 1.2 to 3.3-point increase; p = 0.0027). The apparent kPB decreased 25% with [1-13 C]lactate saturation (0.0047 ± 0.0008 s-1 vs 0.0034 ± 0.0006 s-1 ; 95% confidence interval, 0.0006-0.0019 s-1 increase; p = 0.0049). These effects were not present in the kidneys, heart, or liver. Simulations suggest that the optimal [13 C]bicarbonate SNR with a TR of 1 s in the brain is obtained with [13 C]bicarbonate, [1-13 C]lactate, and [1-13 C]pyruvate flip angles of 60°, 15°, and 10°, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Radiofrequency saturation pulses on [1-13 C]lactate limit [13 C]bicarbonate detection in the brain specifically, which could be due to shuttling of lactate from astrocytes to neurons. Our results have important implications for experimental design in studies in which [13 C]bicarbonate detection is warranted.

Original publication




Journal article


Magn Reson Med

Publication Date



astrocyte neuron lactate shuttle, brain, hyperpolarized, magnetic resonance imaging, metabolism, pyruvate