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J Magn Reson. 2008 Dec;195(2):219-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jmr.2008.09.012. Epub 2008 Sep 17.

Clinical NOE 13C MRS for neuropsychiatric disorders of the frontal lobe.

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Huntington Medical Research Institutes, Clinical MRS Unit, 10 Pico Street, Pasadena, CA, USA.


In this communication, a scheme is described whereby in vivo (13)C MRS can safely be performed in the frontal lobe, a human brain region hitherto precluded on grounds of SAR, but important in being the seat of impaired cognitive function in many neuropsychiatric and developmental disorders. By combining two well known features of (13)C NMR-the use of low power NOE and the focus on (13)C carbon atoms which are only minimally coupled to protons, we are able to overcome the obstacle of SAR and develop means of monitoring the (13)C fluxes of critically important metabolic pathways in frontal brain structures of normal volunteers and patients. Using a combination of low-power WALTZ decoupling, variants of random noise for nuclear overhauser effect enhancement it was possible to reduce power deposition to 20% of the advised maximum specific absorption rate (SAR). In model solutions (13)C signal enhancement achieved with this scheme were comparable to that obtained with WALTZ-4. In human brain, the low power procedure effectively determined glutamine, glutamate and bicarbonate in the posterior parietal brain after [1-(13)C] glucose infusion. The same (13)C enriched metabolites were defined in frontal brain of human volunteers after administration of [1-(13)C] acetate, a recognized probe of glial metabolism. Time courses of incorporation of (13)C into cerebral glutamate, glutamine and bicarbonate were constructed. The results suggest efficacy for measurement of in vivo cerebral metabolic rates of the glutamate-glutamine and tricarboxylic acid cycles in 20 min MR scans in previously inaccessible brain regions in humans at 1.5 T. We predict these will be clinically useful biomarkers in many human neuropsychiatric and genetic conditions.

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