Intracellular water-specific MR of microbead-adherent cells: The HeLa cell intracellular water exchange lifetime

L. Zhao, C. D. Kroenke, J. Song, D. Piwnica-Worms, J. J.H. Ackerman, J. J. Neil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Scopus citations


Quantitative characterization of the intracellular water 1H MR signal from cultured cells will provide critical biophysical insight into the MR signal from tissues in vivo. Microbeads provide a robust immobilization substrate for the many mammalian cell lines that adhere to surfaces and also provide sufficient cell density for observation of the intracellular water MR signal. However, selective observation of the intracellular water MR signal from perfused, microbead-adherent mammalian cells requires highly effective suppression of the extracellular water MR signal. We describe how high-velocity perfusion of microbead-adherent cells results in short apparent 1H MR longitudinal and transverse relaxation times for the extracellular water in a thin slice selected orthogonal to the direction of flow. When combined with a spin-echo pulse sequence, this phenomenon provides highly effective suppression of the extracellular water MR signal. This new method is exploited here to quantify the kinetics of water exchange from the intracellular to extracellular spaces of HeLa cells. The time constant describing water exchange from intracellular to extracellular spaces, also known as the exchange lifetime for intracellular water, is 119 ± 14 ms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-164
Number of pages6
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2008



  • Cell membrane permeability
  • Extracellular water suppression
  • HeLa-cell water
  • Intracellular water selection
  • Lifetime

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy

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