Magnetic resonance imaging of glycogen using its magnetic coupling with water

Yang Zhou, Peter C.M. van Zijl, Xiang Xu, Jiadi Xu, Yuguo Li, Lin Chen, Nirbhay N. Yadav

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Glycogen plays a central role in glucose homeostasis and is abundant in several types of tissue. We report an MRI method for imaging glycogen noninvasively with enhanced detection sensitivity and high specificity, using the magnetic coupling between glycogen and water protons through the nuclear Overhauser enhancement (NOE). We show in vitro that the glycogen NOE (glycoNOE) signal is correlated linearly with glycogen concentration, while pH and temperature have little effect on its intensity. For validation, we imaged glycoNOE signal changes in mouse liver, both before and after fasting and during glucagon infusion. The glycoNOE signal was reduced by 88 ± 16% (n = 5) after 24 h of fasting and by 76 ± 22% (n = 5) at 1 h after intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of glucagon, which is known to rapidly deplete hepatic glycogen. The ability to noninvasively image glycogen should allow assessment of diseases in which glucose metabolism or storage is altered, for instance, diabetes, cardiac disease, muscular disorders, cancer, and glycogen storage diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3144-3149
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 11 2020


  • Fasting
  • Glucagon
  • Liver
  • Saturation transfer
  • Z-spectrum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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