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OHSU # 2346 — Metabolic activity diffusion imaging (MADI): dye-free, high-resolution MRI metabolic imaging


The current technology is a contrast agent-free method of metabolic imaging based on detection of Na/K ATPase activity with MRI, that provides significantly higher resolution than current approaches such as PET.  

Technology Overview

Measuring metabolic activity in vivo can facilitate diagnoses of disease states and therapeutic responses.  Existing imaging modalities for detecting metabolic activity, such PET and MRSI, require administration of  exogeneous contrast agents and have lower spatial resolution than desired.  To overcome these limitations, Oregon Health & Science University researchers developed a novel method of metabolic imaging using MRI, called metabolic activity diffusion imaging (MADI).  Features of this novel metabolic imaging approach include:

  • Detection of metabolic activity associated with the Na/K ATP pump (imaging biomarker; kio), present in all cells and tissues, and never before measurable in vivo
  • Non-invasive contrast agent-free imaging of metabolic activity, including within the brain, based on diffusion-weighted MRI techniques. 
  • A two-fold improvement in spatial resolution of metabolic activity compared to PET, allowing for detection of important tissue and intra-tumor heterogeneity in metabolism. 
  • Separation and detection of cell density and average cell volume, critical biomarkers that can currently be measured only ex vivo
  • Utility for distinguishing regional pathologies as well as therapy responsiveness. 


Springer CS, “Using 1H2O to Measure and Map Sodium Pump Activity in Vivo,” J. Magn. Reson. (2018) 291:3207‑3217. Link

Li X, et al., “The NMR Shutter-Speed Elucidates Apparent Population Inversion of 1H2O Signals Due to Active Trans-membrane Water Cycling,” Magn. Reson. Med. (2019) 82:411-424. Link

Springer CS, et al., “Metabolic activity diffusion imaging (MADI) I. Metabolic, cytometric modeling and simulations.” NMR Biomed. 2023 36(1):e4781. Link ; see also the corresponding editorial.

Springer CS, et al., “Metabolic activity diffusion imaging (MADI): II. Noninvasive, high-resolution human brain mapping of sodium pump flux and cell metrics.” NMR Biomed. 2023 36(1):e4782. Link

Licensing Opportunity

This technology is available for licensing.




Issued United States 11,728,038
Published Japan 2020527372