The National Center for In Vivo Metabolism

The National Center for In Vivo Metabolism has evolved from the development and application of new magnetic resonance methods for monitoring physiology and biochemistry in vivo for more than 28 years at the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Technology Research and Development

The importance of understanding abnormal metabolism in common diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease has long been appreciated. Because of technology constraints, however, much of this research has been conducted in isolated systems where clinical relevance may be uncertain. The multidisciplinary group within the Resource has pioneered new concepts involving the stable isotope 13C and magnetic resonance methods for probing metabolic pathways, but translation of this technology to human patients is limited by poor sensitivity. Technical progress within the Resource in dynamic nuclear polarization and high field magnetic resonance over the last three years now provides the foundation for major advances toward new ways of studying metabolism in patients.

With this goal in mind, three closely interrelated Technology R&D projects are in progress:

  1. Design, synthesis, and characterization of 13C-labeled molecules with long T 1s that probe key aspects of tissue biochemistry and development of paraCEST agents for detecting metabolites.
  2. Implementation of hyperpolarization methods in vivo for the study of metabolism in rodent models at 4.7 T.
  3. Continue development of 7T spectroscopy in skeletal muscle and brain, methods for interpreting 13C NMR spectra from the brain using multiplet information, and implementation of hyperpolarized 13C in vivo.

Major Research Topics

  • Innovative applications of stable isotopes (2H and 13C)
  • Modern NMR methods to measure flux through biochemical pathways in animals and human subjects
  • The design of new lanthanide-based agents that report features of the intra- and extracellular environment
  • The Center is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), which funds technology development and application to humans.

Research Activities

  • Technology development in NMR spectroscopy and imaging methods
  • Application of such technology in the study of humans and animals
  • Developing and providing software for determining metabolic fluxes
  • An annual symposium to discuss recent developments and explore how they can be used in different areas of research
  • Training in the technology for outside users
  • Opportunities for collaborations