Relationship of Parieto-Occipital Brain Energy Phosphate Metabolism and Cognition Using 31P MRS at 7-Tesla in Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment

Namrata Das, Jimin Ren, Jeffrey S Spence, Audette Rackley, Sandra B. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background: The human brain has high energy requirements that continuously support healthy neuronal activity and cognition. A disruption in brain energy metabolism (BEM) may contribute to early neuropathological changes such as accumulation of β-amyloid and tau in vulnerable populations. One such population is amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) where some individuals are at risk for developing dementia, i.e. Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Recent advances in imaging technology are providing new avenues to measure BEM accurately using 31phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P MRS) at ultra-high-field (UHF) magnetic strength 7-Tesla. This study investigates whether a methodology using partial volume-coil 31P MRS at 7T over parieto-occipital lobes can accurately quantify high-energy phosphate and membrane phospholipid metabolites in aMCI. A secondary objective was to explore BEM and membrane phospholipid indices’ correspondence with cognitive performance in domains of executive function (EF), memory, attention, and visuospatial skills in aMCI, a heterogeneous population. Methods: 19 aMCI participants enrolled in the study completed cognitive assessment and 31P MRS scan. BEM indices were measured using three energy indicators: energy reserve (PCr/t-ATP), energy consumption (intracellular_Pi/t-ATP), and metabolic state (PCr/intracellular_Pi) along with regulatory co-factors of BEM-intracellular Mg2 + and pH; whereas the ratio of phosphomonoesters (PMEs) to phosphodiesters (PDEs) – membrane phospholipid indicator. Results: 31P MRS scan showed thirteen well-resolved peaks with precise quantification of the phosphorus metabolites at UHF. The higher BEM indices were associated with lower cognitive performance of memory [(energy reserve indicator: CVLT p = 0.004), (metabolic state indicator: CVLT p = 0.007)], executive function [(metabolic state indicator: TOSL (p = 0.044)], and attention [(pH: selective auditory task, p = 0.044)]. The finding of an inverse relationship observed in the parieto-occipital lobes suggests an association between neuronal energy markers with cognition in aMCI. Conclusion: The significant contribution of this preliminary research was to establish the feasibility of utilizing a methodology at UHF to accurately measure high-energy phosphate and membrane phospholipid metabolites in a population with heterogeneous outcomes. This work offers a novel approach for future work to further elucidate early dementia biomarkers or precursors to the downstream accumulation of amyloid and tau using the combination of MRS-PET imaging modalities in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number222
JournalFrontiers in Aging Neuroscience
StatePublished - Aug 28 2020


  • Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
  • adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
  • amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI)
  • brain energy metabolism
  • fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET)
  • membrane phospholipid
  • phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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