SWIFT-CEST: a new MRI method to overcome T₂ shortening caused by PARACEST contrast agents

Magn Reson Med. 2012 Sep;68(3):816-21. doi: 10.1002/mrm.23302. Epub 2011 Dec 27.


The exchange of water molecules between the inner sphere of a paramagnetic chemical exchange saturation transfer (PARACEST) contrast agent and bulk water can shorten the bulk water T(2) through the T(2) -exchange (T(2ex) ) mechanism. The line-broadening T(2ex) effect is proportional to the agent concentration, the chemical shift of the exchanging water molecule, and is highly dependent on the water molecule exchange rate. A significant T(2ex) contribution to the bulk water linewidth can make the regions of agent uptake appear dark when imaging with conventional sequences like gradient-echo and fast spin-echo. The minimum echo times for these sequences (1-10 ms) are not fast enough to capture signal from the regions of shortened T(2) . This makes "Off" (saturation at -Δω) minus "On" (saturation at +Δω) imaging of PARACEST agents difficult, because the regions of uptake are dark in both images. It is shown here that the loss of bulk water signal due to T(2ex) can be reclaimed using the ultrashort echo times (<10 μs) achieved with the sweep imaging with Fourier transform pulse sequence. Modification of the sweep imaging with Fourier transform sequence for PARACEST imaging is first discussed, followed by parameter optimization using in vitro experiments. In vivo PARACEST studies comparing fast spin-echo to sweep imaging with Fourier transform were performed using EuDOTA-(gly) 4- uptake in healthy mouse kidneys. The results show that the negative contrast caused by T(2ex) can be overcome using the ultrashort echo time achieved with sweep imaging with Fourier transform, thereby enabling fast and sensitive in vivo PARACEST imaging.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Artifacts*
  • Contrast Media
  • Coordination Complexes*
  • Female
  • Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Kidney / anatomy & histology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Mice
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Contrast Media
  • Coordination Complexes
  • europium DOTA-tetraglycinate