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Short echo-time Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in ALS, simultaneous quantification of glutamate and GABA at 3 T

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Cortical hyperexcitability has been found in early Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is hypothesized to be a key factor in pathogenesis. The current pilot study aimed to investigate cortical inhibitory/excitatory balance in ALS using short-echo Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS). Patients suffering from ALS were scanned on a 3 T Trio Siemens MR scanner using Spin Echo Full Intensity Acquired Localized (SPECIAL) Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy in primary motor cortex and the occipital lobe. Data was compared to a group of healthy subjects. Nine patients completed the scan. MRS data was of an excellent quality allowing for quantification of a range of metabolites of interest in ALS. In motor cortex, patients had Glutamate/GABA and GABA/Cr- ratios comparable to healthy subjects. However, Glutamate/Cr (p = 0.002) and the neuronal marker N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA/Cr) (p = 0.034) were low, possibly due to grey-matter atrophy, whereas Glutathione/Cr (p = 0.04) was elevated. In patients, NAA levels correlated significantly with both hand strength (p = 0.027) and disease severity (p = 0.016). In summary SPECIAL MRS at 3 T allows of reliable quantification of a range of metabolites of interest in ALS, including both excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitters. The method is a promising new technique as a biomarker for future studies on ALS pathophysiology and monitoring of disease progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17593
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

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