In vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy of human brain: the biophysical basis of dementia

Biophys Chem. 1997 Oct;68(1-3):161-72. doi: 10.1016/s0301-4622(97)00032-x.


Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in low and medium magnetic fields yields well-resolved natural abundance proton and decoupled phosphorus spectra from small (1-10 cc) volumes of brain in vivo in minutes. With this tool, neurochemical research has advanced through identification and non-invasive assay of specific neuronal--(N-acetylaspartate), glial (myo-inositol)--markers, energetics and osmolytes, and neurotransmitters (glutamate, GABA). From these simple measurements, several dozen disease states are recognized, including birth injury, and white matter and Alzheimer disease. Addition of stable isotopes of carbon (in man) or nitrogen (in experimental animals) has provided in vivo assays of enzyme flux through glucose transport, glycolysis, TCA-cycle, and the glutamine-glutamate-GABA system. Finally, a number of xenobiotics are recognized with heteronuclear NMR techniques. Together, these tools are having a major impact on neuroscience and clinical medicine. Through diagnosis and therapeutic monitoring, a new generation of in vivo metabolite imaging is expected with the advent of conforming RF coils and higher field NMR systems.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Biophysics
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Dementia / diagnosis*
  • Dementia / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular / methods*