Glycosaminoglycan Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (gagCEST) is an important molecular MRI methodology developed to assess changes in cartilage GAG concentrations. The correction for B0 field inhomogeneity is technically crucial in gagCEST imaging. This study evaluates the accuracy of the B0 estimation determined by the dual gradient echo method and the effect on gagCEST measurements. The results were compared with those from the commonly used z-spectrum method. Eleven knee patients and three healthy volunteers were scanned. Dual gradient echo B0 maps with different ∆TE values (1, 2, 4, 8, and 10 ms) were acquired. The asymmetry of the magnetization transfer ratio at 1 ppm offset referred to the bulk water frequency, MTRasym(1 ppm), was used to quantify cartilage GAG levels. The B0 shifts for all knee patients using the z-spectrum and dual gradient echo methods are strongly correlated for all ∆TE values used (r = 0.997 to 0.786, corresponding to ∆TE = 10 to 1 ms). The corrected MTRasym(1 ppm) values using the z-spectrum method (1.34% ± 0.74%) highly agree only with those using the dual gradient echo methods with ∆TE = 10 ms (1.72% ± 0.80%; r = 0.924) and 8 ms (1.50% ± 0.82%; r = 0.712). The dual gradient echo method with longer ∆TE values (more than 8 ms) has an excellent correlation with the z-spectrum method for gagCEST imaging at 3T.
Keywords: APT; B(0) field inhomogeneity; CEST; Chemical exchange saturation transfer; Dual gradient echo method; FOV; GAG; Glycosaminoglycan; IRB; Institutional Review Board; Knee osteoarthritis; MRI; NSA; OA; ROI; SENSE; SNR; TSE; amide proton transfer; chemical exchange saturation transfer; field of view; gagCEST; glycosaminoglycan; glycosaminoglycan chemical exchange saturation transfer; magnetic resonance imaging; number of signal average; osteoarthritis; region of interest; sensitivity encoding; signal to noise ratio; turbo spin echo.