• OMRI;
  • nitroxide;
  • in vivo;
  • mouse

Overhauser-enhanced MRI (OMRI) offers the potentiality of detecting low-concentrated species generated by specific biological processes. However molecular imaging applications of OMRI need significant improvement in spatial localization. Here it is shown that 3D-OMRI of a free radical injected in tumor-bearing mice can be performed at high anatomical resolution at a constant field. A 30 mm cavity operating at 5.43 GHz was inserted in a C-shaped magnet for proton MRI at 0.194 T. Nude mice with or without brain-implanted C6 rat glioma were positioned in the cavity and injected with TOPCA (1-oxyl-2,2,5,5-tetramethyl-2,5-dihydro-1H-pyrrole-3-carboxylic acid). OMRI was performed in 3D within several minutes in the brain region without high overheating of the animals. Voxel size was 0.5 × 0.5 × 1 mm3, providing good delineation of brain regions. Signal amplifications ranged from 2 in tumors to 10 in vessels several minutes after TOPCA injection. Time-course of signal enhancement could be measured by 2D OMRI at 15 s time intervals in a localized thin slice. The method opens the way for molecular imaging of biological activities able to generate OMRI-visible free radicals. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.