Use of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy for monitoring disease progression in multiple sclerosis

Ann Neurol. 1994 Jul;36(1):76-82. doi: 10.1002/ana.410360115.


Decreases in brain N-acetylaspartate are associated with neuronal loss or dysfunction. We report a longitudinal study in which changes in the N-acetylaspartate to creatine resonance intensity ratio measured by brain proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy were used to follow the progression of brain pathology in 7 patients with multiple sclerosis over an 18-month period. Four of the patients had a history of recurrent relapses and 3 had a secondary progressive course. All had clinical and magnetic resonance imaging evidence of persistent neurological abnormalities. At 6-month intervals proton magnetic resonance spectra were obtained and the N-acetylaspartate-creatine ratio was determined for each patient. The volumes of hyperintense signal from lesions on conventional magnetic resonance images and the Kurtzke Expanded Disability Status Scale scores were determined concurrently. At the onset of the study, the N-acetylaspartate-creatine ratio was significantly (p < 0.05) lower in the central brain volumes from the patients than in 13 normal control subjects. At 12 and 18 months of follow-up, the ratio had decreased further in all patients (p < 0.05), consistent with progressive accumulation of neuronal damage. In contrast to magnetic resonance spectra data, changes in lesion volume on magnetic resonance images or disability status did not reach significance over this period. Subgroup analysis showed that changes (increases or decreases) in the N-acetylaspartate-creatine ratio between consecutive 6-month examinations correlated significantly (r = -0.74, p < 0.005) with changes in lesion volume on magnetic resonance images in patients with a history of relapses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / pathology
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain / pathology
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy* / methods
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Recurrence
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine