Hyperpolarized 13c mr spectroscopy depicts in vivo effect of exercise on pyruvate metabolism in human skeletal muscle

Jae Mo Park, Crystal E. Harrison, Junjie Ma, Jun Chen, James Ratnakar, Zungho Zun, Jeff Liticker, Galen D. Reed, Avneesh Chhabra, Ronald G. Haller, Thomas Jue, Craig R. Malloy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) and lactate dehydrogenase are essential for adenosine triphosphate production in skeletal muscle. At the onset of exercise, oxidation of glucose and glycogen is quickly enabled by dephosphorylation of PDH. However, direct measurement of PDH flux in exercising human muscle is daunting, and the net effect of covalent modification and other control mechanisms on PDH flux has not been assessed. Purpose: To demonstrate the feasibility of assessing PDH activation and changes in pyruvate metabolism in human skeletal muscle after the onset of exercise using carbon 13 (13C) MRI with hyperpolarized (HP) [1-13C]-pyruvate. Materials and Methods: For this prospective study, sedentary adults in good general health (mean age, 42 years 6 18 [standard deviation]; six men) were recruited from August 2019 to September 2020. Subgroups of the participants were injected with HP [1-13C]- pyruvate at resting, during plantar flexion exercise, or 5 minutes after exercise during recovery. In parallel, hydrogen 1 arterial spin labeling MRI was performed to estimate muscle tissue perfusion. An unpaired t test was used for comparing 13C data among the states. Results: At rest, HP [1-13C]-lactate and [1-13C]-alanine were detected in calf muscle, but [13C]-bicarbonate was negligible. During moderate flexion-extension exercise, total HP 13C signals (tC) increased 2.8-fold because of increased muscle perfusion (P = .005), and HP [1-13C]-lactate2to-tC ratio increased 1.7-fold (P = .04). HP [13C]-bicarbonate2to-tC ratio increased 8.4-fold (P = .002) and returned to the resting level 5 minutes after exercise, whereas the lactate-to-tC ratio continued to increase to 2.3-fold as compared with resting (P = .008). Conclusion: Lactate and bicarbonate production from hyperpolarized (HP) [12carbon 13 {13C}]-pyruvate in skeletal muscle rapidly reflected the onset and the termination of exercise. These results demonstrate the feasibility of imaging skeletal muscle metabolism using HP [1-13C]-pyruvate MRI and the sensitivity of in vivo pyruvate metabolism to exercise states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)626-631
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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