N-acetylaspartate (NAA) is found exclusively in neurons and their processes in the adult brain. Since the regional distribution of NAA may be imaged using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H-MRSI), a regional measure of neuronal density may be noninvasively obtained. The technique may be particularly useful in the diagnosis of diseases where neurons are selectively injured, since these diseases do not result in definitive changes on conventional imaging studies. The goal of this study was to determine whether 1H-MRSI measurement of NAA detects neuronal loss following global ischemia. 1H-MRSI was performed in rats 24 h after global ischemia was induced by bilateral carotid occlusion plus hypotension. 1-H-MRSI showed that NAA was decreased by 29-74% in vulnerable regions, including the cortex, striatum, hippocampus, and, to a lesser extent, the thalamus. No change was observed in the brain stem or cerebellum. Regions where 1H-MRSI observed NAA was decreased also had histological evidence of selective neuronal necrosis and showed marked increase of lactate and alanine. These results show that 1H-MRSI detected loss of NAA in brain regions with selective neuronal loss, suggesting that 1H-MRSI measurements of NAA could detect neuronal loss in a variety of disease states where there is selective neuronal necrosis.
- Global ischemia
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging