Regional metabolite concentrations in human brain as determined by quantitative localized proton MRS

Magn Reson Med. 1998 Jan;39(1):53-60. doi: 10.1002/mrm.1910390110.


The regional distribution of brain metabolites was studied in several cortical white and gray matter areas, cerebellum, and thalamus of young adults with use of quantitative single-voxel proton MRS at 2.0 T. Whereas the neuronal compound N-acetylaspartate is distributed homogeneously throughout the brain, N-acetylaspartylglutamate increases caudally and exhibits higher concentrations in white matter than in gray matter. Creatine, myo-inositol, glutamate, and glutamine are less concentrated in cortical white matter than in gray matter. The highest creatine levels are found in cerebellum, parallel to the distribution of creatine kinase and energy-requiring processes in the brain. Also myo-inositol has highest concentrations in the cerebellum. Choline-containing compounds exhibit a marked regional variability with again highest concentrations in cerebellum and lowest levels and a strong caudally decreasing gradient in gray matter. The present findings neither support a metabolic gender difference (except for a 1.3-fold higher myo-inositol level in parietal white matter of female subjects) nor a metabolic hemispheric asymmetry.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cerebellum / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Choline / analysis*
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Dipeptides / analysis*
  • Dipeptides / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inositol / analysis*
  • Inositol / metabolism
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Male
  • Protons
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Thalamus / metabolism


  • Dipeptides
  • Protons
  • isospaglumic acid
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Inositol
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline