Serial proton MR spectroscopy of contrast-enhancing multiple sclerosis plaques: absolute metabolic values over 2 years during a clinical pharmacological study

AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2000 Aug;21(7):1220-7.


Background and purpose: The time courses of total creatine (Cr), N-acetylaspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), and myo-inositol have not previously been investigated in the follow-up of contrast-enhancing multiple sclerosis (MS) plaques. Therefore, over a period of 2 years, we compared the absolute concentrations of these metabolites between patients treated with a placebo or 15 +/- deoxyspergualin (DSG) and between clinical groups with relapsing-remitting or secondary-progressive MS.

Methods: Sixteen patients, recruited from a pharmacological study of DSG, and 11 healthy control subjects were investigated by a stimulated-echo acquisition mode sequence (TR/TE = 3000/20). The selected volume initially contained a contrast-enhancing plaque, which was followed up for a period of 2 years.

Results: In contrast-enhancing plaques, Cho was significantly elevated and showed a significant reduction after both 3 and 12 months. The initially normal Cr significantly increased between 3 and 12 months, and was negatively correlated with plaque volume on T1-weighted MR images. NAA initially showed normal values, a significant decrease at 1 month, and a slow recovery over 2 years. Myo-inositol did not show a clear tendency. The placebo group did not differ from the treated group, nor did the relapsing-remitting group differ from the secondary-progressive group.

Conclusion: The contradictory time courses of Cr and NAA show that an absolute quantification in proton MR spectroscopy in MS is necessary to avoid a false interpretation of reduced NAA/Cr ratios. The increase in Cr is probably due to remyelination. The initial dip and later recovery of NAA seem to be related to diminishing edema and remyelination.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Brain / pathology
  • Choline / analysis
  • Creatine / analysis
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guanidines / adverse effects
  • Guanidines / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Inositol / analysis
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / drug therapy*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / drug therapy*


  • Guanidines
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Inositol
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine
  • Choline
  • gusperimus