MRI detection of glycogen in vivo by using chemical exchange saturation transfer imaging (glycoCEST)

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Mar 13;104(11):4359-64. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0700281104. Epub 2007 Mar 5.


Detection of glycogen in vivo would have utility in the study of normal physiology and many disorders. Presently, the only magnetic resonance (MR) method available to study glycogen metabolism in vivo is (13)C MR spectroscopy, but this technology is not routinely available on standard clinical scanners. Here, we show that glycogen can be detected indirectly through the water signal by using selective radio frequency (RF) saturation of the hydroxyl protons in the 0.5- to 1.5-ppm frequency range downfield from water. The resulting saturated spins are rapidly transferred to water protons via chemical exchange, leading to partial saturation of the water signal, a process now known as chemical exchange saturation transfer. This effect is demonstrated in glycogen phantoms at magnetic field strengths of 4.7 and 9.4 T, showing improved detection at higher field in adherence with MR exchange theory. Difference images obtained during RF irradiation at 1.0 ppm upfield and downfield of the water signal showed that glycogen metabolism could be followed in isolated, perfused mouse livers at 4.7 T before and after administration of glucagon. Glycogen breakdown was confirmed by measuring effluent glucose and, in separate experiments, by (13)C NMR spectroscopy. This approach opens the way to image the distribution of tissue glycogen in vivo and to monitor its metabolism rapidly and noninvasively with MRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Electromagnetic Fields
  • Female
  • Glucagon / chemistry
  • Glycogen / chemistry*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / pathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / instrumentation*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Magnetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Perfusion
  • Phantoms, Imaging


  • Glycogen
  • Glucagon