Lego, D., et al., Parahydrogen-induced polarization of carboxylic acids: a pilot study of valproic acid and related structures. NMR Biomed, 2014. 27(7): p. 810-6.
Parahydrogen-induced polarization (PHIP) is a promising new tool for medical applications of MR, including MRI. The PHIP technique can be used to transfer high non-Boltzmann polarization, derived from parahydrogen, to isotopes with a low natural abundance or low gyromagnetic ratio (e.g. (13)C), thus improving the signal-to-noise ratio by several orders of magnitude. A few molecules acting as metabolic sensors have already been hyperpolarized with PHIP, but the direct hyperpolarization of drugs used to treat neurological disorders has not been accomplished until now. Here, we report on the first successful hyperpolarization of valproate (valproic acid, VPA), an important and commonly used antiepileptic drug. Hyperpolarization was confirmed by detecting the corresponding signal patterns in the (1)H NMR spectrum. To identify the optimal experimental conditions for the conversion of an appropriate VPA precursor, structurally related molecules with different side chains were analyzed in different solvents using various catalytic systems. The presented results include hyperpolarized (13)C NMR spectra and proton images of related systems, confirming their applicability for MR studies. PHIP-based polarization enhancement may provide a new MR technique to monitor the spatial distribution of valproate in brain tissue and to analyze metabolic pathways after valproate administration.