Magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the monitoring of multiple sclerosis

J Neuroimaging. 2005;15(4 Suppl):46S-57S. doi: 10.1177/1051228405284200.


In addition to providing information on tissue structure, magnetic resonance (MR) technology offers the potential to investigate tissue metabolism and function. MR spectroscopy (MRS) offers a wealth of data on the biochemistry of a selected brain tissue volume, which represent potential surrogate markers for the pathology underlying multiple sclerosis (MS). In particular, the N-acetylaspartate peak in an MR spectrum is a putative marker of neuronal and axonal integrity, and the choline peak appears to reflect cell-membrane metabolism. On this basis, a diminished N-acetylaspartate peak is interpreted to represent neuronal/axonal dysfunction or loss, and an elevated choline peak represents heightened cell-membrane turnover, as seen in demyelination, remyelination, inflammation, or gliosis. Therefore, MRS may provide a unique tool to evaluate the severity of MS, establish a prognosis, follow disease evolution, understand its pathogenesis, and evaluate the efficacy of therapeutic interventions, which complements the information obtained from the various forms of assessment made by conventional MR imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Atrophy
  • Axons / pathology
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology