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Neuroimage. 2012 May 1;60(4):2107-17. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.013. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Quantitative imaging of energy expenditure in human brain.

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Center for Magnetic Resonance Research, Department of Radiology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Despite the essential role of the brain energy generated from ATP hydrolysis in supporting cortical neuronal activity and brain function, it is challenging to noninvasively image and directly quantify the energy expenditure in the human brain. In this study, we applied an advanced in vivo(31)P MRS imaging approach to obtain regional cerebral metabolic rates of high-energy phosphate reactions catalyzed by ATPase (CMR(ATPase)) and creatine kinase (CMR(CK)), and to determine CMR(ATPase) and CMR(CK) in pure gray mater (GM) and white mater (WM), respectively. It was found that both ATPase and CK rates are three times higher in GM than WM; and CMR(CK) is seven times higher than CMR(ATPase) in GM and WM. Among the total brain ATP consumption in the human cortical GM and WM, 77% of them are used by GM in which approximately 96% is by neurons. A single cortical neuron utilizes approximately 4.7 billion ATPs per second in a resting human brain. This study demonstrates the unique utility of in vivo(31)P MRS imaging modality for direct imaging of brain energy generated from ATP hydrolysis, and provides new insights into the human brain energetics and its role in supporting neuronal activity and brain function.

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