The dissolution-dynamic nuclear polarization technology had previously enabled nuclear magnetic resonance detection of various nuclei in a hyperpolarized state. Here, we show the hyperpolarization of 31P nuclei in important biological phosphates (inorganic phosphate and phosphocreatine) in aqueous solutions. The hyperpolarized inorganic phosphate showed an enhancement factor >11,000 (at 5.8 T, 9.3% polarization) in D2O (T1 29.4 s). Deuteration and the solution composition and pH all affected the lifetime of the hyperpolarized state. This capability opens up avenues for real-time monitoring of phosphate metabolism, distribution, and pH sensing in the live body without ionizing radiation. Immediate changes in the microenvironment pH have been detected here in a cell-free system via the chemical shift of hyperpolarized inorganic phosphate. Because the 31P nucleus is 100% naturally abundant, future studies on hyperpolarized phosphates will not require expensive isotope labeling as is usually required for hyperpolarization of other substrates.
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