Metabolic tumor imaging using magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Semin Oncol. 2011 Feb;38(1):26-41. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2010.11.001.


The adaptability and the genomic plasticity of cancer cells, and the interaction between the tumor microenvironment and co-opted stromal cells, coupled with the ability of cancer cells to colonize distant organs, contribute to the frequent intractability of cancer. It is becoming increasingly evident that personalized molecular targeting is necessary for the successful treatment of this multifaceted and complex disease. Noninvasive imaging modalities such as magnetic resonance (MR), positron emission tomography (PET), and single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) are filling several important niches in this era of targeted molecular medicine, in applications that span from bench to bedside. In this review we focus on noninvasive magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) and their roles in future personalized medicine in cancer. Diagnosis, the identification of the most effective treatment, monitoring treatment delivery, and response to treatment are some of the broad areas into which MRS techniques can be integrated to improve treatment outcomes. The development of novel probes for molecular imaging--in combination with a slew of functional imaging capabilities--makes MRS techniques, especially in combination with other imaging modalities, valuable in cancer drug discovery and basic cancer research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Choline Kinase / metabolism
  • Drug Discovery
  • Drug Monitoring
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Biomarkers
  • Choline Kinase