1H-MRS evaluation of metabolism in Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia

Randall S Jones, Adam D Waldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) allows major metabolites to be measured noninvasively in defined regions of the living brain, and can detect biochemical abnormalities where conventional structural imaging appears normal. MRS can be performed in 10 min as part of a clinical MRI examination. Biochemical abnormalities in Alzheimer's Disease (AD), vascular dementia (VaD) and other primary degenerative dementias have been investigated using MRS. Characteristic and consistent abnormalities in AD are decreased N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) and elevated myo-inositol (mI) in the mesial temporal and parieto-occipital cortex. These are thought to represent neuronal loss/dysfunction and gliosis, in anatomic distributions which reflect early pathological involvement and atrophy patterns in AD. Less consistent disturbances of glutamine and glutamate (Glx) and choline-containing compounds (Cho) have also been reported. Similar changes are seen in VaD; mostly in white matter, whereas in AD they predominate in cortical grey matter. The regional distribution of grey matter involvement may differ between AD and other degenerative dementias. Hence, both the nature and anatomic distribution of metabolite abnormalities contribute to diagnostic discrimination with MRS. NAA/mI ratios from short echo time spectra of the posterior cingulate region cortex discriminate reliably between AD subjects, normal individuals and those with VaD, and provides a useful clinical test, as an adjunct to structural imaging. Elevated mI is detected in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and quantitative metabolite measures correlate with degrees of cognitive impairment in AD; these suggest a possible role for MRS in early diagnosis and for surrogate biochemical markers for monitoring disease progression and therapeutic response.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)488-95
Number of pages8
JournalNeurological Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Acetylcholine
  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Aspartic Acid
  • Cerebral Cortex
  • Dementia, Vascular
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Humans
  • Inositol
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Neurons
  • Journal Article
  • Review


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