Observation of intramyocellular lipids by means of 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 Nov;58(4):841-50. doi: 10.1017/s0029665199001147.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) are being increasingly used for investigations of human muscle physiology. While MRI reveals the morphology of muscles in great detail (e.g. for the determination of muscle volumes), MRS provides information on the chemical composition of the tissue. Depending on the observed nucleus, MRS allows the monitoring of high-energy phosphates (31P MRS), glycogen (13C MRS), or intramyocellular lipids (1H MRS), to give only a few examples. The observation of intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) by means of 1H MRS is non-invasive and, therefore, can be repeated many times and with a high temporal resolution. MRS has the potential to replace the biopsy for the monitoring of IMCL levels; however, the biopsy still has the advantage that other methods such as those used in molecular biology can be applied to the sample. The present study describes variations in the IMCL levels (expressed in mmol/kg wet weight and ml/100 ml) in three different muscles before and after (0, 1, 2, and 5 d) marathon runs for a well-trained individual who followed two different recovery protocols varying mainly in the diet. It was shown that the repletion of IMCL levels is strongly dependent on the diet post exercise. The monitoring of IMCL levels by means of 1H MRS is extremely promising, but several methodological limitations and pitfalls need to be considered, and these are addressed in the present review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Fluid / chemistry
  • Intracellular Fluid / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / chemistry*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / ultrastructure
  • Running


  • Lipids