Relaxometric investigations addressing the determination of intracellular water lifetime: a novel tumour biomarker of general applicability

Maria Rosaria Ruggiero, Simona Baroni, Silvio Aime, Simonetta Geninatti Crich* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


1 H Fast-Field Cycling NMR relaxometry is proposed as a powerful method to investigate tumour cell metabolism by measuring changes in cell water content and mobility across the cellular membrane. Measurements of intracellular water residence time in cultured cells were carried out by measuring T 1 at fixed field (0.2 T) after the addition of a paramagnetic Gd complex (Prohance) at different concentrations in the external medium. Investigations on tumour cells (mammary adenocarcinoma TS/A) grown in normo- or hypoxic conditions or suspended in ‘hypo-osmotic’ solutions allowed us to demonstrate that both hypoxic and hypo-osmotic conditions cause a marked increase in water mobility as assessed by the elongation of T 1 . Conversely, the metabolic change caused by glutamine (an aminoacid essential for tumour growth) deprivation caused a water mobility decrease (shorter T 1 ). These findings suggest that T 1 measurements at low and variable magnetic field strengths, giving access to the assessment of intracellular water lifetime, can provide important information about tumour cell metabolism in real time and non-invasively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968-974
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Physics
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sep 2018



  • intracellular water lifetime
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Profiles (NMRD)
  • relaxometry
  • tumour hypoxia
  • tumour metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry

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