Biomedical NMR //


Our goal is to develop and apply magnetic resonance imaging methods to specifically detect different aspects of processes leading to neuronal damage in neurodegenerative diseases. The magnetic resonance methodology has a dual role: firstly, surrogate markers for neurodegeneration and repair are searched and, secondly, MRI techniques serve as a tool to address relevant neurobiological questions. In addition we develop novel endogenous magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrasts e.g. based on spin-lock and selective saturation (MTC, CEST...) approaches. Furthermore we have other imaging modalities to accompany and enhance our imaging versatility.


The Biomedical Imaging Unit (BIU) of A.I. Virtanen Institute houses various experimental imagers: two 9.4 T MRI scanners, one 7 T MRI scanner, positron emission tomograph (PET), single photon emission tomograph (SPECT) and computed tomography (CT) scanner and an optical imaging system (IVIS). Our research uses the latest anatomical, functional and molecular MRI methodologies as well as novel MR techniques developed by us. The availability of different imaging modalities also enables the multimodal imaging combining the strengths of each of the imaging technique.

In collaboration with other research groups at A.I. Virtanen Institute for Molecular Sciences, we exploit several experimental models of neurological diseases, including stroke, epilepsy, glioma and Alzheimer's disease models, and compare MRI results with different physiological and histological endpoint measures.


Some of our current projects are listed below:

  • Functional, Pharmacological and Resting state MRI

Brain activity leads to changes in the amount of oxygenated hemoglobin that can be readily detected using MRI. We apply the state-of-the-art functional MRI techniques in studies of brain connectivity and neuronal response in healthy and pathological rat and mouse brain. The project is closely linked with our diffusion studies and together these projects hope to better understand changes in brain function as a result of traumatic brain injury.

  • Microstructural analysis of brain tissue using diffusion tensor imaging

The movement (diffusion) of water varies between brain regions based on their cellular structure. We use MRI sensitized towards diffusion to probe altered connectivity between brain regions. The project is closely linked with our functional MRI studies and together these projects hope to better understand changes in brain function as a result of traumatic brain injury.

  • Molecular brain imaging

Positron emission tomography (PET) allows brain imaging studies with very high sensitivity. We are currently using fluorodeoxyglucose (18FDG) to study alterations in brain metabolism as a result of insult. Starting 2016, a new cyclotron located in Kuopio University Hospital allows us to expand our 18F tracer repertoire and also use 11C based tracers.

MR spectroscopy can be used to study brain metabolism because different metabolites can be directly detected. We use proton- and non-proton (mainly 13C) based spectroscopic methods to detect metabolic alterations caused by neurodegenerative processes.

Selected publications

Please see current publications in PubMed