Amide proton transfer-weighted magnetic resonance imaging of human brain aging at 3 Tesla

Zewen Zhang, Caiqing Zhang, Jian Yao, Fei Gao, Tao Gong, Shanshan Jiang, Weibo Chen, Jinyuan Zhou, Guangbin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Amide proton transfer-weighted (APTw) imaging has been revealed to hold great potential in the diagnosis of several brain diseases. The purpose of this proof-of-concept study was to evaluate the feasibility and value of APTw magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in characterizing normal brain aging. Methods: A total of 106 healthy subjects were recruited and scanned at 3.0 Tesla, with APTw and conventional magnetization transfer (MT) sequences. Quantitative image analyses were performed in 12 regions of interest (ROIs) for each subject. The APTw or MT ratio (MTR) signal differences among five age groups (young, mature, middle-aged, young-old, and middle-old) were assessed using the one-way analysis of variance, with the Benjamini-Hochberg correction for multiple comparisons. The relationship between APTw and MTR signals and the age dependencies of APTw and MTR signals were assessed using the Pearson correlation and non-linear regression. Results: There were no significant differences between the APTw or MTR values for males and females in any of the 12 ROIs analyzed. Among the five age groups, there were significant differences in the three white matter regions in the temporal, occipital, and frontal lobes. Overall, the mean APTw values in the older group were higher than those in the younger group. Positive correlations were observed in relation to age in most brain regions, including four with significant positive correlations (r=0.2065-0.4182) and five with increasing trends. As a comparison, the mean MTR values did not appear to be significantly different among the five age groups. In addition, the mean APTw and MTR values revealed significant positive correlations in 10 ROIs (r=0.2214-0.7269) and a significant negative correlation in one ROI (entorhinal cortex, r=-0.2141). Conclusions: Our early results show that the APTw signal can be used as a promising and complementary imaging biomarker with which normal brain aging can be evaluated at the molecular level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)727-742
Number of pages16
JournalQuantitative Imaging in Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Aging
  • Amide proton transfer imaging
  • Biomarkers
  • Chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST)
  • Molecular imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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