Monitoring dynamically the gelation phase transition of agarose with T2 qMRI as a function of concentration at 3T
Eliamani, Saburi D.
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The purpose of this experiment is to study as a model the gelation phase transition of agarose solutions with transverse relaxation (T2) quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI). The focus is on the reduction of T2 of agarose solution upon gelation. The sol-to-gel phase transition of agarose may provide a useful and controllable experimental model of tissue formation. Furthermore, it may provide the basis for exact mathematical models useful for understanding the much reduced transverse relaxation times (T2) observed in solid tissues relative to simple liquids. In this context, the purpose of this work was to monitor dynamically with T2 quantitative MRI the liquid-to-gel phase transition of pure agarose as a function of gel concentration. Samples of agarose at various concentrations were allowed to cool down while scanning dynamically with T2 qMRI, 32 x 10milliseconds (ms) echoes, CarrPurcell-Meiboom-Gill (CPMG), 3Tesla.T2 versus; (temperature).curves of each agarose solution show a distinct phase transition region characterized by a sharp T2 reduction. Four agarose solutions were sequentially prepared by dissolving agarose powder in distilled water at concentrations of 1%, 2%, 3%, and 4% by weight/volume. Immediately after preparation and boiling at 98°C, each liquid agarose solution was poured into a plastic container and scanned dynamically at 3.0T as it cooled down with a whole body MRI scanner (Achieva, Philips Medical Systems, Cleveland, OH). A single axial slice multi spin echo CPMG pulse sequence with the following parameters was used: 32 echoes, 10ms echo spacing, 1.5s repetition time (TR), 160 x 160 matrix size, and 2 SENSE factor. The time per dynamic scan was 1minute. The DICOM images were further processed with an adaptive T2 qMRI algorithm programed in Mathcad (Parametric Technology Corporation, Needham, MA) whereby the number of echoes used in the semi-logarithmic linear regression varies automatically from pixel to pixel depending on noise level. The T2 values of agarose gels have been measured during the entire gelation phase transition process at four different concentrations. The T2 versus time (temperature) curves of all the four concentrations shows a rapid drop at about 24 minutes (T~40°C) at which time the gelation phase transition begins. At all temperatures, T2 decreases as a function of increasing agarose concentration. The data shows similar behaviors for all concentrations with a phase transition characterized by a drastic drop in T2 occurring while the temperature drops by approximately 8°C. These results may be useful for testing theoretical models of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) T2 relaxation properties during tissue formation. Quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) differs sharply from conventional directly acquired MRI in that objective measures [such as the trio of the basis MR properties: longitudinal relaxation (T1), T2 and Proton Density (PD)] are used for analysis as well as further post-processing rather than relative signal intensities. Q-MRI portrays the spatial distribution of absolute biophysical parameter measurements on a pixel-by-pixel basis; Kevin J. Chang et al 2005