Accumulation of methylsulfonylmethane in the human brain: identification by multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Toxicol Lett. 2001 Sep 15;123(2-3):169-77. doi: 10.1016/s0378-4274(01)00396-4.


Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a widely available 'alternative' medicine. In vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was used to detect and quantify MSM in the brains of four patients with memory loss and in three normal volunteers all of who had ingested MSM at the recommended doses of 1-3 g daily. MSM was detected in all subjects at concentrations of 0.42-3.40 mmole/kg brain and was equally distributed between gray and white matter. MSM was undetectable in drug-naïve normal subjects (N=25), patients screened for 'toxic exposure' (N=50) or patients examined with 1H MRS for the diagnosis of probable Alzheimer Disease (N=520) between 1991 and 2001. No adverse clinical or neurochemical effects were observed. Appearance of MSM in significant concentrations in the human brain indicates ready transfer across the intact blood-brain barrier, of a compound with no known medical benefits.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry / drug effects
  • Choline / analysis
  • Creatine / analysis
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inositol / analysis
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular*
  • Sulfones / administration & dosage
  • Sulfones / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Sulfones
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Inositol
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • dimethyl sulfone
  • Creatine
  • Choline
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide