1H MR spectroscopy as a diagnostic tool for cerebral creatine deficiency

MAGMA. 2008 Sep;21(5):327-32. doi: 10.1007/s10334-008-0137-z. Epub 2008 Aug 26.


Objective: Total creatine (tCr) constitutes one of the most prominent signals in human brain MR spectra. A significant decrease in the tCr signal indicates a severe disorder of creatine metabolism. We describe the potential of 1H MR spectroscopy in differential diagnosis of creatine transporter (SLC6A8) deficiency syndrome.

Materials and methods: Two siblings, a 7-year-old female presenting with mild psychomotor delay, and a 5-year-old male with severe psychomotor retardation, epilepsy and autistic spectrum of problems including speech delay, underwent MR examination because of suspected creatine deficiency. After the MRI examination, 1H MR spectroscopy using the CSI technique was performed.

Results: Metabolic images of N-acetylaspartate, tCr and choline concentrations showed a very low tCr signal in the male, which was approximately three times lower than in his sister (male/female/controls: tCr=1.6/4.6/7.5 mM). Despite creatine supplementation, no improvement in clinical status and tCr concentration in the MR spectra of the male was observed and diagnosis of SLC6A8 deficiency was proposed. Sequence analysis of the SLC6A8 gene revealed a novel pathogenic frameshift mutation c.219delC; p.Asn74ThrfsX23, hemizygous in the male and heterozygous in the female.

Conclusions: The diagnosis of X-linked mental retardation caused by the SLC6A8 deficiency can be independently established by 1H MR spectroscopy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatine / deficiency*
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy* / methods
  • Male
  • Mental Retardation, X-Linked / diagnosis
  • Mental Retardation, X-Linked / genetics
  • Mental Retardation, X-Linked / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / deficiency
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Plasma Membrane Neurotransmitter Transport Proteins / deficiency
  • Plasma Membrane Neurotransmitter Transport Proteins / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Plasma Membrane Neurotransmitter Transport Proteins
  • SLC6A8 protein, human
  • Creatine