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Biomed Environ Sci. 2016 Jan;29(1):47-55. doi: 10.3967/bes2016.005.

Evaluation of Glycosaminoglycan in the Lumbar Disc Using Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer MR at 3.0 Tesla: Reproducibility and Correlation with Disc Degeneration.

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Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong SAR 999077, China.
Medical Physics and Research Department, Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, Happy Valley, Hong Kong SAR 999077, China.
MR Clinical Science, Philips Healthcare Greater China, Hong Kong SAR 999077, China.



This study aims to explore the clinical applicability and relevance of glycosaminoglycan Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (gagCEST) for intervertebral disc.


25 subjects ranging in age from 24 yrs to 74 yrs were enrolled. gagCEST was acquired using a single-slice TSE sequence on a 3T. Saturation used a continuous rectangular RF pulse with B1=0.8 µT and a fixed duration time=1100 ms. Sagittal image was obtained firstly without saturation pulse, and then saturated images were acquired at 52 offsets ranging from ±0.125 to ±7 parts per million (ppm). MR T2 relaxivity map was acquired at the identical location. Six subjects were scanned twice to assess scan-rescan reproducibility.


GagCEST intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) of six subjects was 0.759 for nucleus pulposus (NP) and 0.508 for annulus fibrosus (AF). Bland-Altman plots showed NP had a mean difference of 0.10% (95% limits of agreement: -3.02% to 3.22%); while that of AF was 0.34% (95% limits of agreement: -2.28% to 2.95%). For the 25 subjects, gag CEST in NP decreased as disc degeneration increased, with a similar trend to T2 relaxivity. Gag CEST of AF showed a better correlation with disc degeneration than T2 relaxivity.


GagCEST in NP and AF decreased as disc degeneration increased, while gagCEST in AF showed a better correlation than T2 relaxivity.


Chemical Exchange Saturation Transfer (CEST); Disc degeneration; Glycosaminoglycan; Reproducibility

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