Whole-slice mapping of GABA and GABA+ at 7T via adiabatic MEGA-editing, real-time instability correction, and concentric circle readout
An adiabatic MEscher-GArwood (MEGA)-editing scheme, using asymmetric hyperbolic secant editing pulses, was developed and implemented in a B1+-insensitive, 1D-semiLASER (Localization by Adiabatic SElective Refocusing) MR spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) sequence for the non-invasive mapping of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) over a whole brain slice. Our approach exploits the advantages of edited-MRSI at 7T while tackling challenges that arise with ultra-high-field-scans. Spatial-spectral encoding, using
... density-weighted, concentric circle echo planar trajectory readout, enabled substantial MRSI acceleration and an improved point-spread-function, thereby reducing extracranial lipid signals. Subject motion and scanner instabilities were corrected in real-time using volumetric navigators optimized for 7T, in combination with selective reacquisition of corrupted data to ensure robust subtraction-based MEGA-editing. Simulations and phantom measurements of the adiabatic MEGA-editing scheme demonstrated stable editing efficiency even in the presence of ±0.15 ppm editing frequency offsets and B1+ variations of up to ±30% (as typically encountered in vivo at 7T), in contrast to conventional Gaussian editing pulses. Volunteer measurements were performed with and without global inversion recovery (IR) to study regional GABA levels and their underlying, co-edited, macromolecular (MM) signals at 2.99 ppm. High-quality in vivo spectra allowed mapping of pure GABA and MM-contaminated GABA+ (GABA + MM) along with Glx (Glu + Gln), with high-resolution (eff. voxel size: 1.4 cm3) and whole-slice coverage in 24 min scan time. Metabolic ratio maps of GABA/tNAA, GABA+/tNAA, and Glx/tNAA were correlated linearly with the gray matter fraction of each voxel. A 2.15-fold increase in gray matter to white matter contrast was observed for GABA when enabling IR, which we attribute to the higher abundance of macromolecules at 2.99 ppm in the white matter than in the gray matter. In conclusion, adiabatic MEGA-editing with 1D-semiLASER selection is as a promising approach for edited-MRSI at 7T. Our sequence capitalizes on the benefits of ultra-high-field MRSI while successfully mitigating the challenges related to B0/B1+ inhomogeneities, prolonged scan times, and motion/scanner instability artifacts. Robust and accurate 2D mapping has been shown for the neurotransmitters GABA and Glx.