Regional mapping of gas uptake by blood and tissue in the human lung using hyperpolarized xenon-129 MRI

J Magn Reson Imaging. 2014 Feb;39(2):346-59. doi: 10.1002/jmri.24181. Epub 2013 May 16.


Purpose: To develop a breathhold acquisition for regional mapping of ventilation and the fractions of hyperpolarized xenon-129 (Xe129) dissolved in tissue (lung parenchyma and plasma) and red blood cells (RBCs), and to perform an exploratory study to characterize data obtained in human subjects.

Materials and methods: A three-dimensional, multi-echo, radial-trajectory pulse sequence was developed to obtain ventilation (gaseous Xe129), tissue, and RBC images in healthy subjects, smokers, and asthmatics. Signal ratios (total dissolved Xe129 to gas, tissue-to-gas, RBC-to-gas, and RBC-to-tissue) were calculated from the images for quantitative comparison.

Results: Healthy subjects demonstrated generally uniform values within coronal slices, and a gradient in values along the anterior-to-posterior direction. In contrast, images and associated ratio maps in smokers and asthmatics were generally heterogeneous and exhibited values mostly lower than those in healthy subjects. Whole-lung values of total dissolved Xe129 to gas, tissue-to-gas, and RBC-to-gas ratios in healthy subjects were significantly larger than those in diseased subjects.

Conclusion: Regional maps of tissue and RBC fractions of dissolved Xe129 were obtained from a short breathhold acquisition, well tolerated by healthy volunteers and subjects with obstructive lung disease. Marked differences were observed in spatial distributions and overall amounts of Xe129 dissolved in tissue and RBCs among healthy subjects, smokers and asthmatics.

Keywords: gas uptake; hyperpolarized xenon-129; lung imaging; pulmonary disease.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Contrast Media / administration & dosage
  • Contrast Media / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Lung / metabolism*
  • Lung Diseases / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Xenon Isotopes / administration & dosage
  • Xenon Isotopes / pharmacokinetics*
  • Young Adult


  • Contrast Media
  • Xenon Isotopes