A longitudinal proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study of mild traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2011 Jan;28(1):1-11. doi: 10.1089/neu.2010.1578.


Despite the prevalence and impact of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), common clinical assessment methods for mTBI have insufficient sensitivity and specificity. Moreover, few researchers have attempted to document underlying changes in physiology as a function of recovery from mTBI. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (¹H-MRS) was used to assess neurometabolite concentrations in a supraventricular tissue slab in 30 individuals with semi-acute mTBI, and 30 sex-, age-, and education-matched controls. No significant group differences were evident on traditional measures of attention, memory, working memory, processing speed, and executive skills, though the mTBI group reported significantly more somatic, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. At a mean of 13 days post-injury, white matter concentrations of creatine (Cre) and phosphocreatine (PCre) and the combined glutamate-glutamine signal (Glx) were elevated in the mTBI group, while gray matter concentrations of Glx were reduced. Partial normalization of these three neurometabolites and N-acetyl aspartate occurred in the early days post-injury, during the semi-acute period of recovery. In addition, 17 mTBI patients (57%) returned for a follow-up evaluation (mean = 120 days post-injury). A significant group × time interaction indicated recovery in the mTBI group for gray matter Glx, and trends toward recovery in white matter Cre and Glx. An estimate of premorbid intelligence predicted the magnitude of neurometabolite normalization over the follow-up interval for the mTBI group, indicating that biological factors underlying intelligence may also be associated with more rapid recovery.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Protons


  • Protons