Quantitative in vivo1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging of neuronal loss in rat brain

A. R. Guimaraes, P. Schwartz, M. R. Prakash, C. A. Carr, U. V. Berger, B. G. Jenkins, J. T. Coyle, R. G. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The aim of this research was to determine whether in vivo nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic measurement of N-acetyl aspartate, a neuron specific brain marker, provides a quantitative index of neuronal loss. Five rats were injected unilaterally in the corpus striatum with kainic acid, an analogue of glutamate that causes excitotoxic degeneration of intrinsic neurons, and were subjected to nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopic imaging. Measurements of N-acetyl aspartate were determined in vivo and compared to post mortem nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic measures of N-cetyl aspartate and choline acetyl transferase and glutamate decarboxylase activities, biochemical markers for striatal intrinsic neuronal integrity. Mean per cent neuronal survival of hemispheres with lesion versus the contralateral hemispheres measured 72 for glutamate decarboxylase and 71 for N-acetyl aspartate (in vivo), 74 for N-acetyl aspartate (in vitro), and 62 for choline acetyl transferase, respectively. Our studies in rats have shown that estimates of neuronal loss through nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopic measurements of N-acetyl aspartate are equivalent to traditional neuronal enzyme activity assays. The results unequivocally demonstrate that N-acetyl aspartate is a valid and sensitive neuronal marker with the capability of providing accurate assessments of neuronal loss in vivo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1095-1101
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • chemical shift imaging
  • excitotoxic cell injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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