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J Magn Reson. 2010 Jan;202(1):102-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2009.10.005. Epub 2009 Oct 30.

Protein-induced water 1H MR frequency shifts: contributions from magnetic susceptibility and exchange effects.

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Department of Chemistry, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO 63130, USA.


Defining the biophysics underlying the remarkable MRI phase contrast reported in high field MRI studies of human brain would lead to more quantitative image analysis and more informed pulse sequence development. Toward this end, the dependence of water (1)H resonance frequency on protein concentration was investigated using bovine serum albumin (BSA) as a model system. Two distinct mechanisms were found to underlie a water (1)H resonance frequency shift: (i) a protein-concentration-induced change in bulk magnetic susceptibility, causing a shift to lower frequency, and (ii) exchange of water between chemical-shift distinct environments, i.e., free (bulk water) and protein-associated ("bound") water, including freely exchangeable (1)H sites on proteins, causing a shift to higher frequency. At 37 degrees C the amplitude of the exchange effect is roughly half that of the susceptibility effect.

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