Marco-Rius, Irene, and Arnaud Comment. “In Vivo Hyperpolarized 13C MRS and MRI Applications,” 7:12, 2018.
The tremendous polarization enhancement afforded by dissolution dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) can be taken advantage of to perform molecular and metabolic imaging. Following the injection of molecules that are hyperpolarized via dissolution DNP, real-time measurements of their biodistribution and metabolic conversion can be recorded. This technology therefore provides a unique and invaluable tool for probing cellular metabolism in vivo in a noninvasive manner. It gives the opportunity to follow and evaluate disease progression and treatment response without requiring ex vivo destructive tissue assays. Seven sites across the globe are currently performing human studies using hyperpolarized 13C-pyruvate, and several other institutions are on the brink of being ready to inject their first patients. The most promising fields of application of this technology are in oncology and cardiology, and the aim of this article is to provide an overview of some of the current in vivo preclinical and clinical applications of hyperpolarized 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging. Some new approaches and potential future developments to improve the hyperpolarized 13C technology are also presented and discussed.