Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology


Department of Radiology

First Thesis Advisor

Christopher Sotak, Ph.D.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Contrast Media, Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has increasingly become the preferred imaging modality in modern day research to study disease. MRI presents an imaging technique that is practically non-invasive and without any ionizing radiation. This dissertation presents the use of contrast agents in MRI studies to differentiate compartments, to study dose dependence of relaxation times, and to characterize tumors using signal amplifying enzymes in the brain.

Differentiating compartments in the brain can be useful in diffusion studies to detect stroke at an early stage. Diffusion-weighted NMR techniques have established that the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) of cerebral tissue water decreases during ischemia. However, it is unclear whether the ADC change occurs due to changes in the intracellular (IC) space, extracellular (EC) space, or both. To better understand the mechanism of water ADC changes in response to ischemic injury, making IC and EC compartment specific measurements of water diffusion is essential. The first study was done where manganese (Mn2+) was used as an IC contrast agent. Mn2+ uptake by cells causes shortening of the T1 relaxation time of IC water. The relative difference in T1 relaxation times between the IC and EC compartments can be used to discriminate between the MR signals arising from water in the respective compartments.

Mn2+ is also widely used in manganese-enhanced MRI (MEMRI) studies to visualize functional neural tracts and anatomy in the brain in vivo. In animal studies, the goal is to use a dose of Mn2+ that will maximize the contrast while minimizing its toxic effects. The goal of dose study was to investigate the MRI dose response of Mn2+ in rat brain following SC administration of Mn2+. The dose dependence and temporal dynamics of Mn2+ after SC injection can prove useful for longitudinal in vivo studies that require brain enhancement to persist for a long period of time to visualize neuroarchitecture like in neurodegenerative disease studies.

Contrast agents, in addition to their use in compartmental differentiation and dose studies, can be used for imaging tumors. The last study in this dissertation focuses on imaging EGF receptors in brain tumors. We tested a novel pretargeting imaging approach that includes the administration of humanized monoclonal antibody (anti-EGFR mAb, EMD72000) linked to enzymes with complementing activities that use a low-molecular weight paramagnetic molecule (diTyr-GdDTPA) as a reducing substrate administered following the mAb conjugates. We analyzed the differential MR tumor signal decay in vivo using orthotopic models of human glioma. The patterns of MR signal change following substrate administration revealed differences in elimination patterns that allowed distinguishing between non-specific and specific modes of MR signal decay.


Joint Ph.D. degree from both UMass Medical School and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.



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