NMR study of water exchange across the hepatocyte membrane

G. Bacic, J. C. Alameda, A. Iannone, R. L. Magin, H. M. Swartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An understanding of the cellular permeability for water is needed to evaluate MR images of complex tissues, such as liver, and to interpret the effects of contrast agents. To obtain data essential for such an understanding we measured water exchange across the isolated rodent hepatocyte membrane by proton NMR relaxation with dextranmagnetite as a relaxation agent. The results are treated as water exchange in a two-compartment system, and possible reasons for deviations from that behavior are analyzed. The mean residence time of intracellular water was approximately 40 ms at 37°C. We found the lower limit for the diffusional permeability of the hepatocyte membrane to be 8 × 10-3 cm s-1. These results, combined with consideration of hepatic anatomy indicate that the failure to observe effects on the T1 of liver from particulate contrast agents such as magnetite, Gd-starch, and liposome encapsulated Mn2+ is due to the localization of these agents in the Kupffer cells. Also, the nonexponential T1 decay observed in normal liver is unlikely to be due to slow exchange of water between compartments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-416
Number of pages6
JournalMagnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1989


  • Diffusion
  • Hepatocyte
  • Magnetite
  • Relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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