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Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2017 Jun 21;19:485-515. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-071516-044450.

Advances in Imaging Brain Metabolism.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, Magnetic Resonance Research Center, and Quantitative Neuroscience with Magnetic Resonance Core Center, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520; email:


Metabolism is central to neuroimaging because it can reveal pathways by which neuronal and glial cells use nutrients to fuel their growth and function. We focus on advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) methods used in brain metabolic studies. 17O-MRS and 31P-MRS, respectively, provide rates of oxygen use and ATP synthesis inside mitochondria, whereas 19F-MRS enables measurement of cytosolic glucose metabolism. Calibrated functional MRI (fMRI), an advanced form of fMRI that uses contrast generated by deoxyhemoglobin, provides maps of oxygen use that track neuronal firing across brain regions. 13C-MRS is the only noninvasive method of measuring both glutamatergic neurotransmission and cell-specific energetics with signaling and nonsignaling purposes. Novel MRI contrasts, arising from endogenous diamagnetic agents and exogenous paramagnetic agents, permit pH imaging of glioma. Overall, these magnetic resonance methods for imaging brain metabolism demonstrate translational potential to better understand brain disorders and guide diagnosis and treatment.


aerobic glycolysis; excitation; glycogen; inhibition; neuroimaging; oxidative phosphorylation

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