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Am J Physiol. 1983 Nov;245(5 Pt 1):C439-44.

Nitrogen-14 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy of mammalian tissues.


The use of 14N nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to monitor the concentrations of nitrogenous compounds in biological tissues was investigated. 14N-NMR spectra were collected in vivo and in vitro from several tissues of the rat and rabbit. Many nitrogen-containing compounds were detected, including urea, NH+4, trimethylamines, and several amino acids. In general, the compounds detected had approximately tetrahedral symmetry about the 14N nucleus and concentrations in the millimolar range. A problem that may limit the usefulness of 14N-NMR in intact tissue is the rapid exchange of nitrogen compounds in solution with those bound to sites on macromolecules. Such interactions tend to broaden the 14N resonance signal considerably. The binding of urea to intra- and extracellular proteins is presented as a specific example of this phenomenon. A particularly interesting finding was the high concentration (approximately 90 mM) of trimethylamine compounds in the renal inner medulla. We propose that 14N-NMR is a potentially useful technique for noninvasive detection of specific nitrogen-containing compounds in intact biological tissues.

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