CEST-based detection of labile protons by ultrafast 2D NMR

Ricardo P. Martinho, Gregory L. Olsen, Lucio Frydman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) NMR is widely used for enhancing the sensitivity of low-abundance exchanging sites in general, and for the water-based detection of labile metabolite protons under in vivo conditions in particular. CEST, however, faces a number of limitations when targeting multiple metabolites, including a radiofrequency (RF)-induced broadening of the detected peaks, and relatively long acquisition times deriving from its continuous-wave nature. Methods have been proposed to overcome these limitations, including a Fourier-encoded version of CEST –the Frequency-Labeled EXchange (FLEX) experiment– and the incorporation of background gradients during the RF saturation time. This work explores an alternative avenue, based on spatiotemporally encoded ultrafast (UF) 2D NMR. UF NMR can compress the time-domain indirect-dimension encoding of 2D NMR into a single shot; to exploit these potential time savings, an UF version of the FLEX experiment was taken as starting point, and the multiple t1-incremented amplitude modulation cycles that the FLEX experiment normally requires were replaced by a single-shot spatiotemporal encoding. The ensuing UF 2D FLEX experiment was then used to monitor the spectral signatures of multiple moieties as they exchange with the solvent, by imprinting these onto the water resonance as in the original experiment –but now all within a single shot. Upon incorporating two-scan phase cycling and quadrature detection, the resulting method showed an experimental performance similar to t1-encoded FLEX, while providing significant time savings plus imaging information that could be of further use in in vivo studies. The main advantages, features and drawbacks observed for UF 2D FLEX are briefly discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100096
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Open
Early online date25 Jan 2023
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


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