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J Neurol. 2007 Aug;254(8):1099-106. Epub 2007 Apr 13.

Brain metabolites in definite amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A longitudinal proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Ulm, Oberer Eselsberg 45, 89081, Ulm, Germany.


Biomarkers beyond clinical assessment are needed in patients who suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Here, single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H MRS) of the gray matter of the motor cortex and the white matter including the pyramidal tracts was used to investigate concentrations of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), creatine (Cr), choline (Cho), myoinositol, glutamate, and glutamine in patients with definite ALS in a longitudinal design (three measurements at study inclusion, after 3 and 6 months). A volume-corrected analysis of gray and white matter fractions within the volumes of interest (VOI) was performed for the identification of the absolute metabolite concentrations. The patient group showed a significant decline of the compound NAA over time in the motor cortex areas both of the clinically more and less affected hemisphere between first measurement and month 6 and for the less affected side additionally between first measurement and month 3. For the NAA/(Cr + Cho) ratio, significant decline in the less affected hemisphere was observed from the first measurement to month 3 and to month 6 as well as from month 3 to month 6. In contrast, neither NAA nor the NAA/(Cr + Cho) ratios in the white matter areas showed any significant alterations. All other compounds showed no significant changes over time. In summary, the longitudinal changes of cortical metabolite concentrations in the course of ALS could be assessed by optimized (1)H MRS techniques at group level, so that (1)H MRS parameters, in particular volume-corrected values of NAA in the clinically less affected hemisphere, seem to have the potential to serve as a surrogate marker for monitoring ALS disease progression.

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