Accelerated and quantitative three-dimensional molecular MRI using a generative adversarial network

Jonah Weigand-Whittier, Maria Sedykh, Kai Herz, Jaume Coll-Font, Anna N. Foster, Elizabeth R. Gerstner, Christopher Nguyen, Moritz Zaiss, Christian T. Farrar, Or Perlman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To substantially shorten the acquisition time required for quantitative three-dimensional (3D) chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST) and semisolid magnetization transfer (MT) imaging and allow for rapid chemical exchange parameter map reconstruction. Methods: Three-dimensional CEST and MT magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF) datasets of L-arginine phantoms, whole-brains, and calf muscles from healthy volunteers, cancer patients, and cardiac patients were acquired using 3T clinical scanners at three different sites, using three different scanner models and coils. A saturation transfer-oriented generative adversarial network (GAN-ST) supervised framework was then designed and trained to learn the mapping from a reduced input data space to the quantitative exchange parameter space, while preserving perceptual and quantitative content. Results: The GAN-ST 3D acquisition time was 42–52 s, 70% shorter than CEST-MRF. The quantitative reconstruction of the entire brain took 0.8 s. An excellent agreement was observed between the ground truth and GAN-based L-arginine concentration and pH values (Pearson's r > 0.95, ICC > 0.88, NRMSE < 3%). GAN-ST images from a brain-tumor subject yielded a semi-solid volume fraction and exchange rate NRMSE of (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.), respectively, and SSIM of (Formula presented.) and (Formula presented.), respectively. The mapping of the calf-muscle exchange parameters in a cardiac patient, yielded NRMSE < 7% and SSIM > 94% for the semi-solid exchange parameters. In regions with large susceptibility artifacts, GAN-ST has demonstrated improved performance and reduced noise compared to MRF. Conclusion: GAN-ST can substantially reduce the acquisition time for quantitative semi-solid MT/CEST mapping, while retaining performance even when facing pathologies and scanner models that were not available during training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1901-1914
Number of pages14
JournalMagnetic Resonance in Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • chemical exchange saturation transfer
  • generative adversarial network
  • magnetic resonance fingerprinting
  • magnetization transfer
  • pH
  • quantitative imaging


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