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Could Sugar replace Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents used for MRIs?

Animal studies have shown that D-glucose is a potential biodegradable MRI contrast agent for imaging glucose uptake in tumors.  According to findings reported by Xu et al in “Dynamic Glucose-Enhanced (DGE) MRI: Translation to Human Scanning and First Results in Glioma Patients”, dynamic glucose-enhanced (DGE) imaging is feasible in humans.  Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) MRI was used to image dynamic signal changes in the human brain at 7 Tesla (7T) during and after infusion of D-glucose (sugar).

DGE image data from 4 normal volunteers and 3 glioma patients showed strong signal enhancement in blood vessels, while the enhancement varied spatially over the tumor.  The authors noted that the areas of enhancement differed spatially between DGE and conventional Gd-enhanced imaging, suggesting complementary image information content for these two types of agents.

The researchers concluded that it was possible to detect water signal changes in the human brain induced by infusion of D-glucose.  They said that the signal changes are due to glucose uptake in vessels, the brain and tumor tissue areas, and are related to the kinetics of delivery, transport and metabolism of D-glucose.  They noted that an interesting finding is that different tumor areas showed varying times of enhancement, which suggests that the dynamic time curves may contain information about blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability.

According to the study authors, a larger human study is needed, and for DGE to become relevant clinically, it would have to be possible at 3 Tesla and preferably also at 1.5 Tesla.

Why this is important for patients –  (more…)

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