Development of the human brain: in vivo quantification of metabolite and water content with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Magn Reson Med. 1993 Oct;30(4):424-37. doi: 10.1002/mrm.1910300405.


Cerebral metabolite concentrations and water content were measured by means of localized proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in 50 children, while metabolite peak ratios in short echo time spectra were evaluated in 173 examinations. Normative curves for normal development were established for two cerebral locations. The current report presents the first study of absolute metabolite concentrations and T1- and T2- relaxation as a function of age. Myo-inositol was found dominating the spectra at birth (12 mmoles/kg), while choline is responsible for the strongest peak in older infants (2.5 mmoles/kg). Creatine and N-acetyl groups are at significantly lower concentrations in the neonate than in the adult (Cr: 6, NA: 5 mmoles/kg). NA and Cr are determined by gestational age, whereas the concentration of ml correlates best with postnatal age. Quantitative 1H MRS is expected to be of particular value in diagnosis and monitoring of pathology in infants, since metabolite ratios are often misleading.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Choline / analysis*
  • Creatine / analysis*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inositol / analysis*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Water / analysis*


  • Water
  • Inositol
  • Creatine
  • Choline