Localized proton NMR spectroscopy in different regions of the human brain in vivo. Relaxation times and concentrations of cerebral metabolites

Magn Reson Med. 1989 Jul;11(1):47-63. doi: 10.1002/mrm.1910110105.


High-resolution proton NMR spectra of normal human brain in vivo have been obtained from selected 27- and 64-ml volumes-of-interest (VOI) localized in the insular area, the occipital area, the thalamus, and the cerebellum of normal volunteers. Localization was achieved by stimulated echo (STEAM) sequences using a conventional 1.5-T whole-body MRI system (Siemens Magnetom). The proton NMR spectra show resonances from lipids, lactate, acetate, N-acetylaspartate (NAA), gamma-aminobutyrate, glutamine, glutamate, aspartate, creatine and phosphocreatine, choline-containing compounds, taurine, and inositols. While T1 relaxation times of most of these metabolites were about 1100-1700 ms without significant regional differences, their T2 relaxation times varied between 100 and 500 ms. The longest T2 values of about (500 +/- 50) ms were observed for the methyl protons of NAA in the white matter of the occipital lobe compared to (320 +/- 30) ms in the other parts of the brain. No significant regional T2 differences were found for choline and creatine methyl resonances. The relative concentrations of NAA in gray and white matter were found to be 35% higher than those in the thalamus and cerebellum. Assuming a concentration of 10 mM for total creatine the resulting NAA concentrations of 13-18 mM are by a factor of 2-3 higher than previously reported using analytical techniques. Cerebral lactate reached a maximum concentration of about 1.0 mM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*