Reproducibility of APT-weighted CEST-MRI at 3T in healthy brain and tumor across sessions and scanners

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Amide proton transfer (APT)-weighted chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) imaging is a recent MRI technique making its way into clinical application. In this work, we investigated whether APT-weighted CEST imaging can provide reproducible measurements across scan sessions and scanners. Within-session, between-session and between scanner reproducibility was calculated for 19 healthy volunteers and 7 patients with a brain tumor on two 3T MRI scanners. The APT-weighted CEST effect was evaluated by calculating the Lorentzian Difference (LD), magnetization transfer ratio asymmetry (MTRasym), and relaxation-compensated inverse magnetization transfer ratio (MTRREX) averaged in whole brain white matter (WM), enhancing tumor and necrosis. Within subject coefficient of variation (COV) calculations, Bland–Altman plots and mixed effect modeling were performed to assess the repeatability and reproducibility of averaged values. The group median COVs of LD APT were 0.56% (N = 19), 0.84% (N = 6), 0.80% (N = 9) in WM within-session, between-session and between-scanner respectively. The between-session COV of LD APT in enhancing tumor (N = 6) and necrotic core (N = 3) were 4.57% and 5.67%, respectively. There were no significant differences in within session, between session and between scanner comparisons of the APT effect. The COVs of LD and MTRREX were consistently lower than MTRasym in all experiments, both in healthy tissues and tumor. The repeatability and reproducibility of APT-weighted CEST was clinically acceptable across scan sessions and scanners. Although MTRasym is simple to acquire and compute and sufficient to provide robust measurement, it is beneficial to include LD and MTRREX to obtain higher reproducibility for detecting minor signal difference in different tissue types.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18115
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2023

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