Total brain N-acetylaspartate concentration in normal, age-grouped females: quantitation with non-echo proton NMR spectroscopy

Magn Reson Med. 1998 Nov;40(5):684-9. doi: 10.1002/mrm.1910400506.


The intra-individual and inter-individual variations of the global N-acetylaspartate (NAA) concentration were measured in a cohort of five 42+/-5 year-old normal females. The total NAA signal from the whole head was obtained with non-localized non-echo proton spectroscopy (1H-MRS) and converted into absolute mole amounts using phantom replacement. Since NAA is assumed to be present only in neurons, its concentration was obtained by dividing these mole amounts with the brains' volume, calculated from high resolution MRI. The key feature of the procedure is its near-complete suppression of the intense subcutaneous and bone marrow lipids' signals, whose chemical shifts neighbor and underlay the NAA. This was achieved by exploiting the lipids' much shorter T1s, compared to that of NAA, for destructive interference of their signals in co-addition following alternating, nonselective 180 degrees inversions. The average global, inter-individual NAA concentration in that group was found to be 10.63 mM with a 95% confidence interval of 10.43-10.82 mM.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Protons
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Protons
  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate