Brain metabolite alterations demonstrated by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in diabetic patients with retinopathy

Magn Reson Imaging. 2014 Oct;32(8):1037-42. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2014.04.020. Epub 2014 May 2.


Due to the homology between retinal and cerebral microvasculatures, retinopathy is a putative indicator of cerebrovascular dysfunction. This study aimed to detect metabolite changes of brain tissue in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients with diabetic retinopathy (DR) using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS). Twenty-nine T2DM patients with DR (DR group), thirty T2DM patients without DR (DM group) and thirty normal controls (NC group) were involved in this study. Single-voxel (1)H-MRS (TR: 2000ms, TE: 30ms) was performed at 3.0T MRI/MRS imager in cerebral left frontal white matter, left lenticular nucleus, and left optic radiation. Our data showed that NAA/Cr ratios of the DR group were significantly lower than those of the DM group in the frontal white matter and optic radiation. In the lenticular nucleus, MI/Cr ratios were significantly higher in the DM group than those in the NC group, while MI/Cr ratios were significantly lower in the DR group than those in the DM group. In the frontal white matter, NAA/Cho ratios were found to be decreased in the DR group as compared to the NC group. Additionally, our finding indicated that NAA/Cr ratios were negatively associated with DR severity in both the frontal white matter and optic radiation. A decrease in NAA indicated neuronal loss and the likely explanation for a decrease in MI was glial loss. In conclusion, we inferred that cerebral neurons and glia cells were damaged in patients with DR. Our data support that DR is associated with brain tissue damage.

Keywords: Brain damage; Diabetic retinopathy; Myo-inositol; N-Acetylaspartate; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Choline / chemistry
  • Corpus Striatum / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / pathology*
  • Diagnostic Techniques, Ophthalmological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inositol / metabolism
  • Male
  • Neuroglia / pathology
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retina / pathology
  • White Matter / pathology


  • Aspartic Acid
  • Inositol
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline