Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Amide proton transfer (APT) imaging may help identify the ischaemic penumbra in stroke patients, the classical definition of which is a region of tissue around the ischaemic core that is hypoperfused and metabolically stressed. Given the potential of APT imaging to complement existing imaging techniques to provide clinically-relevant information, there is a need to develop analysis techniques that deliver a robust and repeatable APT metric. The challenge to accurate quantification of an APT metric has been the heterogeneous in-vivo environment of human tissue, which exhibits several confounding magnetisation transfer effects including spectrally-asymmetric nuclear Overhauser effects (NOEs). The recent literature has introduced various model-free and model-based approaches to analysis that seek to overcome these limitations. OBJECTIVES: The objective of this work was to compare quantification techniques for CEST imaging that specifically separate APT and NOE effects for application in the clinical setting. Towards this end a methodological comparison of different CEST quantification techniques was undertaken in healthy subjects, and around clinical endpoints in a cohort of acute stroke patients. METHODS: MRI data from 12 patients presenting with ischaemic stroke were retrospectively analysed. Six APT quantification techniques, comprising model-based and model-free techniques, were compared for repeatability and ability for APT to distinguish pathological tissue in acute stroke. RESULTS: Robustness analysis of six quantification techniques indicated that the multi-pool model-based technique had the smallest contrast between grey and white matter (2%), whereas model-free techniques exhibited the highest contrast (>30%). Model-based techniques also exhibited the lowest spatial variability, of which 4-pool APTR∗ was by far the most uniform (10% coefficient of variation, CoV), followed by 3-pool analysis (20%). Four-pool analysis yielded the highest ischaemic core contrast-to-noise ratio (0.74). Four-pool modelling of APT effects was more repeatable (3.2% CoV) than 3-pool modelling (4.6% CoV), but this appears to come at the cost of reduced contrast between infarct growth tissue and normal tissue. CONCLUSION: The multi-pool measures performed best across the analyses of repeatability, spatial variability, contrast-to-noise ratio, and grey matter-white matter contrast, and might therefore be more suitable for use in clinical imaging of acute stroke. Addition of a fourth pool that separates NOEs and semisolid effects appeared to be more biophysically accurate and provided better separation of the APT signal compared to the 3-pool equivalent, but this improvement appeared be accompanied by reduced contrast between infarct growth tissue and normal tissue.

Original publication




Journal article


Neuroimage Clin

Publication Date





Acute ischaemic stroke, Amide proton transfer, Chemical exchange saturation transfer, Nuclear Overhauser effects