In vivo (1)H MRSI of glycine in brain tumors at 3T

Magn Reson Med. 2016 Jan;75(1):52-62. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25588. Epub 2015 Feb 4.


Purpose: MR spectroscopic imaging (SI) of glycine (Gly) in the human brain is challenging due to the interference of the abundant neighboring J-coupled resonances. Our aim is to accomplish reliable imaging of Gly in healthy brain and brain tumors using an optimized MR sequence scheme at 3 tesla.

Methods: Two-dimensional (1)H SI was performed with a point-resolved spectroscopy scheme. An echo time of 160 ms was used for separation between Gly and myo-inositol signals. Data were collected from eight healthy volunteers and 14 subjects with gliomas. Spectra were analyzed with the linear combination model using numerically calculated basis spectra. Metabolite concentrations were estimated with reference to creatine in white matter (WM) regions at 6.4 molar concentrations (mM).

Results: From a linear regression analysis with respect to the fractional gray matter (GM) content, the Gly concentrations in pure GM and WM in healthy brains were estimated to be 1.1 and 0.3 mM, respectively. Gly was significantly elevated in tumors. The tumor-to-contralateral Gly concentration ratio was more extensive with higher grades, showing ∼ 10-fold elevation of Gly in glioblastomas.

Conclusion: The Gly level is significantly different between GM and WM in healthy brains. Our data indicate that SI of Gly may provide a biomarker of brain tumor malignancy.

Keywords: 1H MRSI; 3T; PRESS (point-resolved spectroscopy); glycine; human brain, gliomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Algorithms*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Imaging / methods
  • Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers, Tumor