Off-resonance saturation as an MRI method to quantify ferritin-bound iron in the post-mortem brain
Purpose To employ an Off-Resonance Saturation (ORS) method to measure the ferritin-bound iron pool, which is an endogenous contrast agent which can give information on cellular iron status. Methods An ORS acquisition protocol was implemented on a 7T preclinical scanner and the contrast maps were fitted to an established analytical model. The method was validated by correlation and Bland-Altman analysis on a ferritin-containing phantom. Ferritin-iron maps were obtained from post-mortem tissue of patients with neurological diseases characterized by brain iron accumulation, i. e. Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and aceruloplasminemia, and validated with histology. Transverse relaxation rate and magnetic susceptibility values were also obtained for comparison. Results In post-mortem tissue, the ferritin-iron contrast strongly co-localizes with histological iron staining, in all the cases. Quantitative iron values obtained via the ORS method are in agreement with literature. Conclusions Off-resonance saturation is an effective way to detect iron in grey matter structures, while mitigating for the presence of myelin. If a reference region with little iron is available in the tissue, the method can produce quantitative iron maps. This method is applicable in the study of brain diseases characterized by brain iron accumulation and complement existing iron-sensitive parametric methods.