Association between Brain and Plasma Glutamine Levels in Healthy Young Subjects Investigated by MRS and LC/MS

Nutrients. 2019 Jul 19;11(7):1649. doi: 10.3390/nu11071649.


Both glutamine (Gln) and glutamate (Glu) are known to exist in plasma and brain. However, despite the assumed relationship between brain and plasma, no studies have clarified the association between them. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was sequentially performed twice, with a 60-min interval, on 10 males and 10 females using a 3T scanner. Blood samples for liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC/MS) to measure Gln and Glu concentrations in plasma were collected during the time interval between the two MRS sessions. MRS voxels of interest were localized at the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and cerebellum (Cbll) and measured by the SPECIAL sequence. Spearman's correlation coefficient was used to examine the association between brain and plasma metabolites. The Gln concentrations in PCC (mean of two measurements) were positively correlated with Gln concentrations in plasma (p < 0.01, r = 0.72). However, the Glu concentrations in the two regions were not correlated with those in plasma. Consideration of the different dynamics of Gln and Glu between plasma and brain is crucial when addressing the pathomechanism and therapeutic strategies for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and hepatic encephalopathy.

Keywords: LC/MS; cerebellum; glutamate; glutamine; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; posterior cingulate gyrus.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Cerebellum / chemistry
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / analysis*
  • Glutamic Acid / blood
  • Glutamine / analysis*
  • Glutamine / blood
  • Gyrus Cinguli / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult


  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid