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Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS)

MRI - 1H-MRS spectra
1H-MRS spectra from occipitoparietal cortex of pre-transplant liver patient
Dr. Joel Talcott, Tulpesh Patel

Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (1H-MRS) is a rapidly developing field of neuroimaging that allows non-invasive in vivo analysis of neurochemicals and their metabolites, and makes possible the examination of the potential biochemical underpinnings of cognition. In the brain, the strongest and most reliable metabolite signals are generated by N-acetyl aspartate, creatine and phosphocreatine, choline, and myo-Inositol. These four metabolites, and other reasonably well resolved compounds such as glutamate/glutamine and lactate, form the principal focus of 1H-MRS research.

Our work aims to develop and refine 1H-MRS as a research tool, with the intention of developing valuable normative population data and investigating some of the potential biochemical underpinnings of cognition in healthy and diseased populations.

Current/Ongoing 1H-Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy research projects:

Neuronal viability in paediatric liver transplant and chronic liver disease

  1. Pre and Post-liver transplant patients
  2. Long-term liver transplant survivors
30 children undergo liver transplantation each year at the BCH. In a unique multi-modal collaboration with the Liver Unit at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, co-funded by the EPSRC and Children’s Liver Fund, we are assessing brain and blood biochemistry in liver patients with a view to further understanding the neurophysiological and cognitive effects of the disease, and predict improvements thereof after liver transplant, on patient quality of life. 1H-MRS may be particularly useful in patients where some neurological effects of disease may be too subtle to detect with standard clinical tools.

Reliability of single-voxel 1H-Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy of the human brain

Sources of variability in results from repeated 1H-MRS examinations of individual subjects can be broken down into the following critical factors: (1) instrumental variability, (2) biological variability, (3) voxel relocalization on repeat scans, (4) operator variability in scanning procedures, and (5) data analysis procedures. By repeatedly scanning the same individuals in the same brain regions with short (1 hour) and long (a month) time intervals, we aim to assess the degree of variability in MRS values and its sensitivity to detect real biological change.

Biochemical correlates of cognitive function in healthy adult brain

1H-MRS is being used to examine correlations in the natural inter-individual variation in of a number of neurometabolites (N-acetyl aspartate, choline, myo-Inositol and creatine) with specific cognitive abilities such as information processing speed and functional neuroimaging measures of auditory processing using MEG.

In vivo assessment of brain development from birth to adolescence using 1H-Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

As a non-invasive, non-destructive procedure that does not require parenteral injections or use of radioactive materials, 1H-MRS is ideally suited for multiple repeat studies of paediatric populations to provide in vivo biochemical data on maturational processes. By scanning taking cross-sectional samples of children in different age groups and scanning children longitudinally, we aim to assess how brains biochemistry develops throughout childhood.