MR proton spectroscopy in multiple sclerosis

R. I. Grossman, R. E. Lenkinski, K. N. Ramer, F. Gonzalez-Scarano, J. A. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


PURPOSE: To elucidate the natural history of visualized MR abnormalities in patients with multiple sclerosis using proton spectroscopy. METHODS: MR imaging and proton spectroscopy (1H spectroscopy) were performed on 16 patients with clinically definite multiple sclerosis. All patients received gadopentetate dimeglumine (Gd-DTPA). RESULTS: Decreased levels of N- acetylaspartate (NAA) were demonstrated in 17 out of 21 lesions. No correlation was found between decreased NAA and Gd-DTPA enhancement. In five out of seven enhancing lesions, abnormal 1H spectra with extra peaks (termed marker peaks) at 2.1-2.6 ppm (ranging in absolute concentration from 10-50 mM protons) were observed. In nine out of 14 unenhancing lesions, no elevated marker peaks were observed. In the five other unenhancing lesions, the levels of these marker peaks were generally lower than the enhancing group. No correlation was found between the NAA levels and the levels of the marker peaks. We suggest two distinct biochemical processes: 1) decreased NAA reflecting neuronal cell loss, and 2) elevated marker peaks reflecting ongoing demyelination. CONCLUSIONS: Based upon these observations we infer that 1) the majority of enhancing lesions are demyelinating with extra peaks at 2.1-2.6 ppm representing a marker of this process, 2) enhancing lesions without this marker most likely represent edematous regions without significant demyelination, and 3) demyelination may be long in duration compared with transient blood-brain barrier disruption manifested by Gd-DTPA enhancement. Our results suggest that 1H spectroscopy has the ability to further categorize MR-demonstrated enhancing and unenhancing lesions in patients with multiple sclerosis and that it may be more sensitive than contrast enhancement in revealing the true time course of demyelination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1535-1543
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Neuroradiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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