Efforts in the clinical translation of the paraCEST contrast agent Yb-HPDO3A have prompted an investigation into saturation pulse optimality under energy constraints. The GRAPE algorithm has been adapted and implemented for saturation pulse optimization with chemical exchange. The flexibility of the methodology, both in extracting the microscopical parameter ensemble for the algorithm as well as in determining the characteristics of this new class of rising amplitude waveforms allows rapid testing and implementation. Optimal pulses achieve higher saturation efficiencies than the continuous wave gold standard for rapid and especially for variable exchange rates, as brought about by pH-catalysis. Gains of at least 5-15% without any tradeoff have been confirmed both on a spectrometer and on a clinical imager. Pool specific solutions, with pulses optimized for a specific exchange rate value, additionally increase the flexibility of the CEST ratiometric analysis. A simple experimental approach to determine close to optimal triangular pulses is presented.
Keywords: CEST; GRAPE; Nuclear magnetic resonance; Optimal control; ParaCEST; Pulse engineering; Yb-HPDO3A; pH; pH mapping.
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