Quantification of amounts and (13)C content of metabolites in brain tissue using high- resolution magic angle spinning (13)C NMR spectroscopy

NMR Biomed. 2009 Apr;22(3):266-71. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1317.


Metabolic pathway mapping using (13)C NMR spectroscopy has been used extensively to study interactions between neurons and glia in the brain. Established extraction procedures of brain tissue are time consuming and may result in degradation of labile substances. We examined the potential of mapping (13)C-enriched compounds in intact brain tissue using high-resolution magic angle spinning (HR-MAS) NMR spectroscopy. Sprague-Dawley rats received an intraperitoneal injection of [1,6-(13)C]glucose, and 15 min later the animals were subjected to microwave fixation of the brain. Quantification of concentration and (13)C labelling of metabolites in intact rat thalamus were carried out based on exogenous ethylene glycol concentrations measured from (1)H NMR spectra using an ERETIC (Electronic REference To access In vivo Concentrations) signal. The results from intact tissue were compared with those from perchloric acid-extracted brain tissue. Amounts of (13)C labelling at different positions (C2, C3 and C4) in glutamate, glutamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid and aspartate measured in either intact tissue or perchloric acid extracts were not significantly different. Proton NMR spectra were used for quantification of six different amino acids plus lactate, inositol, N-acetylaspartate, creatine and phosphocreatine. Again, results were very similar when comparing the methods. To our knowledge, this is the first time quantitative (13)C NMR spectroscopy measurements have been carried out on intact brain tissue ex vivo using the HR-MAS technique. The results show that HR-MAS (13)C NMR spectroscopy in combination with (1)H NMR spectroscopy and the ERETIC method is useful for metabolic studies of intact brain tissue ex vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Carbon / analysis*
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Metabolome*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Thalamus / metabolism
  • Tissue Extracts


  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Tissue Extracts
  • Carbon
  • Glucose