Frontal-temporal regional differences in brain energy metabolism and mitochondrial function using 31P MRS in older adults

Geroscience. 2024 Jun;46(3):3185-3195. doi: 10.1007/s11357-023-01046-3. Epub 2024 Jan 16.


Aging is a major risk for cognitive decline and transition to dementia. One well-known age-related change involves decreased brain efficiency and energy production, mediated in part by changes in mitochondrial function. Damaged or dysfunctional mitochondria have been implicated in the pathogenesis of age-related neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's disease (AD). The aim of the current study was to investigate mitochondrial function over frontal and temporal regions in a sample of 70 cognitively normal older adults with subjective memory complaints and a first-degree family history of AD. We hypothesized cerebral mitochondrial function and energy metabolism would be greater in temporal as compared to frontal regions based on the high energy consumption in the temporal lobes (i.e., hippocampus). To test this hypothesis, we used phosphorous (31P) magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) which is a non-invasive and powerful method for investigating in vivo mitochondrial function via high energy phosphates and phospholipid metabolism ratios. We used a single voxel method (left temporal and bilateral prefrontal) to achieve optimal sensitivity. Results of separate repeated measures analyses of variance showed 31P MRS ratios of static energy, energy reserve, energy consumption, energy demand, and phospholipid membrane metabolism were greater in the left temporal than bilateral prefrontal voxels. Our findings that all 31P MRS ratios were greater in temporal than bifrontal regions support our hypothesis. Future studies are needed to determine whether findings are related to cognition in older adults.

Keywords: Aging; Brain energy metabolism; Mitochondria; Phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease* / metabolism
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Phospholipids / metabolism


  • Phospholipids