The pathological basis for essential tremor (ET) is unknown. We used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H MRSI) in 16 ET patients and 11 controls to measure levels of intracellular metabolites, including N-acetyl-L-aspartate (NAA) and total choline, relative to total creatine (tCR), in several brain regions (cerebellum, thalamus, basal ganglia). Multislice 1H MRSI data were acquired on a 1.5 T GE Signa Scanner by prescribing four 15-mm axial-oblique slices. The mean (standard deviation) cerebellar cortical NAA/tCR was reduced in cases compared to controls (1.53 [0.36] versus 1.91 [0.49], P = 0.03). There was an inverse association between cerebellar cortical NAA/tCR and dominant arm tremor severity (r = -0.59, P = 0.02). The reduction in cerebellar cortical NAA/tCR indicates that there is neuronal damage or loss in ET, suggesting that ET may be a neurodegenerative disease.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.