Microscopic theory of spin–spin and spin–lattice relaxation of bound protons in cellular and myelin membranes—A lateral diffusion model (LDM)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Deciphering salient features of biological tissue cellular microstructure in health and diseases is an ultimate goal of MRI. While most MRI approaches are based on studying MR properties of tissue “free” water indirectly affected by tissue microstructure, other approaches, such as magnetization transfer (MT), directly target signals from tissue-forming macromolecules. However, despite three-decades of successful applications, relationships between MT measurements and tissue microstructure remain elusive, hampering interpretation of experimental results. The goal of this paper is to develop microscopic theory connecting the structure of cellular and myelin membranes to their MR properties. Theory and Methods: Herein we introduce a lateral diffusion model (LDM) that explains the T2 (spin–spin) and T1 (spin–lattice) MRI relaxation properties of the macromolecular-bound protons by their dipole–dipole interaction modulated by the lateral diffusion of long lipid molecules forming cellular and myelin membranes. Results: LDM predicts anisotropic T1 and T2 relaxation of membrane-bound protons. Moreover, their T2 relaxation cannot be described in terms of a standard R2 = 1/T2 relaxation rate parameter, but rather by a relaxation rate function R2(t) that depends on time t after RF excitation, having, in the main approximation, a logarithmic behavior: R2(t) ∼ lnt. This anisotropic non-linear relaxation leads to an absorption lineshape that is different from Super-Lorentzian traditionally used in interpreting MT experiments. Conclusion: LDM-derived analytical equations connect the membrane-bound protons T1 and T2 relaxation with dynamic distances between protons in neighboring membrane-forming lipid molecules and their lateral diffusion. This sheds new light on relationships between MT parameters and microstructure of cellular and myelin membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-383
Number of pages14
JournalMagnetic resonance in medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • MRI
  • MT
  • bound protons
  • lateral diffusion
  • spin–spin and spin–lattice relaxation
  • tissue microstructure


Dive into the research topics of 'Microscopic theory of spin–spin and spin–lattice relaxation of bound protons in cellular and myelin membranes—A lateral diffusion model (LDM)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this