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NMR Biomed. 2010 Oct;23(8):995-1000. doi: 10.1002/nbm.1517.

In vivo 31P MRS detection of an alkaline inorganic phosphate pool with short T1 in human resting skeletal muscle.

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C.J. Gorter Center for High Field MRI, Department of Radiology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, The Netherlands.


Non-invasive determination of mitochondrial content is an important objective in clinical and sports medicine. 31P MRS approaches to obtain information on this parameter at low field strength typically require in-magnet exercise. Direct observation of the intra-mitochondrial inorganic phosphate (Pi) pool in resting muscle would constitute an alternative, simpler method. In this study, we exploited the higher spectral resolution and signal-to-noise at 7T to investigate the MR visibility of this metabolite pool. 31P in vivo MR spectra of the resting soleus (SOL) muscle were obtained with 1H MR image-guided surface coil localization (six volunteers) and of the SOL and tibialis anterior (TA) muscle using 2D CSI (five volunteers). A resonance at a frequency 0.38 ppm downfield from the cytosolic Pi resonance (Pi(1); pH 7.0 ± 0.04) was reproducibly detected in the SOL muscle in all subjects and conditionally attributed to the intra-mitochondrial Pi pool (Pi(2); pH 7.3 ± 0.07). In the SOL muscle, the Pi(2)/Pi(1) ratio was 1.6 times higher compared to the TA muscle in the same individual. Localized 3D CSI results showed that the Pi(2) peak was present in voxels well away from blood vessels. Determination of the T1 of the two Pi pools in a single individual using adiabatic excitation of the spectral region around 5 ppm yielded estimates of 4.3 ± 0.4 s vs 1.4 ± 0.5 s for Pi(1) and Pi(2), respectively. Together, these results suggest that the intra-mitochondrial Pi pool in resting human skeletal muscle may be visible with 31P MRS at high field.

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