Hyperpolarized carbon-13 magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging: a clinical tool for studying tumour metabolism.

07 Mar 2018

Glucose metabolism in tumours is reprogrammed away from oxidative metabolism, even in the presence of oxygen. Non-invasive imaging techniques can probe these alterations in cancer metabolism providing tools to detect tumours and their response to therapy. Although Positron Emission Tomography with (18F)2-fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (18F-FDG PET) is an established clinical tool to probe cancer metabolism, it has poor spatial resolution and soft tissue contrast, utilizes ionizing radiation and only probes glucose uptake and phosphorylation and not further downstream metabolism. Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) has the capability to non-invasively detect and distinguish molecules within tissue but has low sensitivity and can only detect selected nuclei. Dynamic Nuclear Polarization (DNP) is a technique which greatly increases the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) achieved with MR by significantly increasing nuclear spin polarization and this method has now been translated into human imaging. This review provides a brief overview of this process, also termed Hyperpolarized Carbon-13 Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging (HP 13C-MRSI), its applications in preclinical imaging, an outline of the current human trials that are ongoing, as well as future potential applications in oncology.