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Neurology. 1996 Sep;47(3):756-60.

Is the intracellular pH different from normal in the epileptic focus of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy? A 31P NMR study.

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Department of Medicine, UAB Epilepsy Center, USA.


We performed in vivo 31P NMR spectroscopic studies of human brain on a 4.1 T whole-body NMR system. Based on a control group of 20 healthy volunteers, the normal pHi was 7.05 (SD, 0.06; SEM, 0.01) in the left temporal lobe and 7.04 (SD, 0.04; SEM, 0.01) in the right temporal lobe. We also studied a patient group consisting of 13 individuals with unilateral temporal lobe epilepsy. The mean pHi was 7.02 (SD, 0.04; SEM, 0.01) in the ipsilateral lobe and 7.02 (SD, 0.05; SEM, 0.01) in the contralateral lobe. These results clearly show that no statistically significant difference in pHi is observed between the two lobes, either in normal controls or in patients. Also, no significant pHi difference exists between the control group and the patient group. Lateralization in each of the 13 patients with unilateral epilepsy, based on their individual pHi difference between the ipsilateral lobe and contralateral lobe (delta pHi), showed that three patients were nondiagnostic cases because their delta pHis were not significantly different from zero (< or = 0.02), five patients showed small delta pHis consistent with their clinical lateralization, whereas the remaining five patients showed delta pHi-based lateralization opposite to the clinical findings. These results seem to indicate an essentially random distribution around delta pHi = 0 within a very small experimental error of +/-0.02 pH units. pHi obtained from eight different areas in each of the 13 unilateral patients also did not show any significantly nonzero delta pHi values. These results led to the conclusion that even at the excellent spectral resolution and reproducibility of the 4.1 T machine (typical SD of 0.05 pH units), no significant pHi effect, induced by temporal lobe epilepsy, could be detected. Therefore, in this study, delta pHi does not appear to be a clinically useful tool for the lateralization of epileptic foci in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.

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