Lorentzian effects in magnetic susceptibility mapping of anisotropic biological tissues

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The ultimate goal of MRI is to provide information on biological tissue microstructure and function. Quantitative Susceptibility Mapping (QSM) is one of the newer approaches for studying tissue microstructure by means of measuring phase of Gradient Recalled Echo (GRE) MRI signal. The fundamental question in the heart of this approach is: what is the relationship between the net phase/frequency of the GRE signal from an imaging voxel and the underlying tissue microstructure at the cellular and sub-cellular levels? In the presence of external magnetic field, biological media (e.g. cells, cellular components, blood) become magnetized leading to the MR signal frequency shift that is affected not only by bulk magnetic susceptibility but by the local cellular environment as well. The latter effect is often termed the Lorentzian contribution to the frequency shift. Evaluating the Lorentzian contribution – one of the most intriguing and challenging problems in this field – is the main focus of this review. While the traditional approach to this problem is based on introduction of an imaginary Lorentzian cavity, a more rigorous treatment was proposed recently based on a statistical approach and a direct solution of the Maxwell equations. This approach, termed the Generalized Lorentzian Tensor Approach (GLTA), is especially fruitful for describing anisotropic biological media. The GLTA adequately accounts for two types of anisotropy: anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility and tissue structural anisotropy (e.g., cylindrical axonal bundles in white matter). In the framework of the GLTA the frequency shift due to the local environment is described in terms of the Lorentzian tensor L̂ which can have a substantially different structure than the susceptibility tensor χ̂. While the components of χ̂ are compartmental susceptibilities “weighted” by their volume fractions, the components of L̂ are additionally weighted by specific numerical factors depending on cellular geometrical symmetry. In addition to describing the GLTA that is a phenomenological approach largely based on considering the system symmetry, we also briefly discuss a microscopic approaches to the problem that are based on modeling of the MR signal in different regimes (i.e. static dephasing vs. motion narrowing) and in different cellular environments (e.g., accounting for WM microstructure).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-136
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance
StatePublished - Jul 2018


  • Generalized Lorentzian Tensor Approach
  • Magnetic susceptibility
  • Phase contrast
  • Quantitative susceptibility mapping
  • White matter


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