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Advances in Sodium MRI

Advances in Sodium MRI
Reported by
Don Monroe

Posted January 13, 2010

Presented By

Imaging Discussion Group


Magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) provides a variety of stunningly detailed views into the brains, hearts, joints, and other tissues of living human beings and has become a familiar part of medicine. All types of MRIs exploit different properties of a single chemical species, hydrogen, by inducing radiofrequency oscillations of the proton that constitutes its nucleus. In addition to such detailed structural information, however, researchers would like to learn more about the biological function of the tissues. Some proton MRI techniques are sensitive to function, but more direct information at a chemical level could enhance both research and treatment.

After hydrogen, sodium protons generate the second strongest magnetic resonance signals among naturally abundant elements in the body. Sodium is also a key player in the ionic balance that marks healthy cells as well as stabilizes structural tissues such as cartilage. At an April 20, 2006, meeting at the Academy, three speakers addressed the promise of sodium MRI for directly assessing the health of tissue. They also described the difficulties that have kept the technique waiting in the wings for two decades.

Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.

Web Sites

Manufacurers of sodium MRI products

GE Healthcare
GE also offers an MR Masters series of professional training for physicians. See also this press release from the University of Illinois at Chicago and GE concerning the new 9.4 T magnetic imaging technology.


Philips MRI Products


Seibel, M.J., S.P. Robins & J.P. Bilezikian, Eds. 1999. Dynamics of Bone and Cartilage Metabolism. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Journal Articles


Hilal, S. K., A. A. Maudsley, J. B. Ra et al. 1985. In vivo NMR imaging of sodium-23 in the human head. J. Comput. Assist. Tomogr. 9: 1-7.

Ra, J. B., S. K. Hilal, C. H. Oh & I. K. Mun. 1988. In vivo magnetic resonance imaging of sodium in the human body. Magn. Reson. Med. 7: 11-22.

The Role of Clinical Sodium MR Imaging in Management of Tissue Viability in Stroke and Brain Tumors

Kline, R. P. E. X. Wu, D. P. Petrylak et al. 2000. Rapid in vivo monitoring of chemotherapeutic response using weighted sodium magnetic resonance imaging. Clin. Cancer Res. 6: 2146-2156. FULL TEXT

Thulborn, K. R., D. Davis, J. Snyder et al. 2005. Sodium MR imaging of acute and subacute stroke for assessment of tissue viability. Neuroimaging Clin. N. Am. 15: 639-53, xi-xii.

Thulborn, K. R., T. S. Gindin, D. Davis & P. Erb. 1999. Comprehensive MR imaging protocol for stroke management: tissue sodium concentration as a measure of tissue viability in nonhuman primate studies and in clinical studies. Radiology 213: 156-166. FULL TEXT.

Imaging Sodium Content in Patients with Heart Disease and Cancers

Boada, F. E., J. S. Gillen, G. X. Shen et al. 1997. Fast three dimensional sodium imaging. Magn. Reson. Med. 37: 706-715.

Constantinides, C. D., J. S. Gillen, F. E. Boada et al. 2000. Human skeletal muscle: sodium MR imaging and quantification-potential applications in exercise and disease. Radiology 16: 559-568. FULL TEXT.

Constantinides, C. D., D. L. Kraitchman, K. O. O'Brien et al. 2001. Noninvasive quantification of total sodium concentrations in acute reperfused myocardial infarction using 23Na MRI. Magn. Reson. Med. 46: 1144-1151.

Ouwerkerk, R., K. B. Bleich, J. S. Gillen et al. 2003. Tissue sodium concentration in human brain tumors as measured with 23Na MR imaging. Radiology 227: 529-537. FULL TEXT

Ouwerkerk, R., R. G. Weiss & P. A. Bottomley 2005. Measuring human cardiac tissue sodium concentrations using surface coils, adiabatic excitation, and twisted projection imaging with minimal T2 losses. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 21: 546-555.

Sodium MRI for Molecular and Diagnostic Imaging of Cartilage

Glasson, S.S., R. Askew, B. Sheppard et al. 2005. Deletion of active ADAMTS5 prevents cartilage degradation in a murine model of osteoarthritis. Nature. 434: 644-648.

Karsenty, G. 2005. An Aggrecanase and Osteoarthritis. N. Engl. J. Med. 353: 522-523.

Lesperance, L.M., M.L. Gray & D. Burstein. 1992. Determination of fixed charge density in cartilage using nuclear magnetic resonance. J. Orthop. Res. 10: 1-13.

Reddy, R., E.K. Insko & J.S. Leigh. 1997. Triple quantum sodium imaging of articular cartilage. Magn. Reson. Med. 38: 279-284.

Reddy, R., E.K. Insko, E.A. Noyszewski, et al. 1998. Sodium MRI of human articular cartilage in vivo. Magn Reson.Med. 39: 697-701.

Shapiro, E. M., A. Borthakur, R. Dandora et al. 2000. Sodium visibility and quantitation in intact bovine articular cartilage using high field 23Na MRI and MRS. J. Magn Reson. 142: 24-31.

Shapiro, E. M., A. Borthakur, A. Gougoutas & R. Reddy. 2002. 23Na MRI accurately measures fixed charge density in articular cartilage. Magn. Reson. Med. 47: 284-291.

Stanton, H., F. M. Rogerson, C. J. East et al. 2005. ADAMTS5 is the major aggrecanase in mouse cartilage in vivo and in vitro. Nature 434: 648-52.

Wheaton, A. J., A. Borthakur, G. R. Dodge et al. 2004. Sodium magnetic resonance imaging of proteoglycan depletion in an in vivo model of osteoarthritis. Acad. Radiol. 11: 21-28.

Wheaton, A. J., A. Borthakur, E. M. Shapiro et al. 2004. Proteoglycan loss in human knee cartilage: quantitation with sodium MR imaging—feasibility study. Radiology 23: 900-905. FULL TEXT.


Keith Thulborn, MD, PhD

University of Illinois at Chicago
email | web site | publications

Keith Thulborn received his PhD in biochemistry from University of Melbourne, Australia in 1980, traveled to Oxford University, England, as a postdoctoral researcher from 1979 to 1981 and moved to the United States for medical training, receiving his MD degree from Washington University, St. Louis, MO in 1984.

He then moved to Boston for his internship in pediatrics at the Boston Children's Hospital followed by residency and fellowship training in radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He became at attending in Radiology there and was associated with Harvard University from 1989 to 1993 first as an instructor, then as assistant professor and finally as associate professor of radiology. He moved to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in 1993 to develop one of the earliest high-field MRI Centers for Functional Neuroimaging and developed the first clinical 3T MRI scanner. He left as a full professor of radiology to move to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in 2000 as professor of radiology, physiology, and biophysics, and director of the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research at UIC.

Thulborn has made a wide range of fundamental contributions to functional neuroimaging in both imaging technology and clinical applications. Under his leadership, MR Research Center at UIC has completed the world's first 9.4T MRI scanner for human functional neuroimaging, which promises to provide unprecedented opportunities to decode the human brain at biochemical, physiological and anatomical levels.

Paul A. Bottomley, PhD

Johns Hopkins University
email | web site | publications

Paul Bottomley is director of the Division of MR Research at Johns Hopkins University. He and his team are working to develop and evaluate magnetic resonance techniques that show potential for clinical application in cardiology, especially to ischemic heart disease. He has used spatially localized phosphorous MR spectroscopy to study myocardial energy metabolism, and has used proton MR to look at myocardial creatine, an important metabolite that is produced with ATP from the dephosphorylation of phospocreatine in the heart. MRS measures of creatine might be used as a possible index of viability of heart tissue following myocardial infaction (heart attack).

Ravinder Reddy, PhD

University of Pennyslvania
email | web site | publications

Ravinder Reddy obtained his PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur in 1989, and then completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship/research associateship with J. S. Leigh in the University of Pennsylvania Department of Radiology. He is currently a professor of radiology, the Science Director of the Metabolic Magnetic Resonance Research and Computing Center (MMRRCC), and the director of Laboratory for Multinuclear Magnetic Resonance (LMMR) at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of biochemistry and molecular biophysics (BMB) and bioengineering graduate groups at the University of Pennsylvania.

Reddy's research interests are in the general area of theoretical and experimental magnetic resonance (MR) with a particular emphasis on polarization transfer, multiple quantum effects and MR of quadrupolar nuclei (23Na and 17O) in studies of molecular and structural changes in biological tissues.

In particular, he has developed single and multiple quantum methods for studying sodium properties in biological tissues and pioneered the field of sodium MR and spin-locking MRI of cartilage. These studies form the basis for the development of quantitative early diagnostic methods for Arthritis. His other research efforts focus on the development of novel indirect detection methods for measuring oxidative metabolism, which will have significant impact on studies of stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and tumor biology.

Don Monroe

Don Monroe is a science writer based in Murray Hill, New Jersey. After getting a PhD in physics from MIT, he spent more than fifteen years doing research in physics and electronics technology at Bell Labs. He writes on biology, physics, and technology.