Altered macromolecular pattern and content in the aging human brain

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The resonances originating from proteins underlie those of metabolites in brain 1H nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectra. These resonances have different physical properties from those of metabolites, such as shorter T1 and T2 relaxation time constants. The age dependence of the macromolecular pattern and content in the human brain was investigated with a focus on adults over 66 years of age using ultrahigh-field in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Eighteen young and 23 cognitively normal older adults were studied at 7 T. Metabolite spectra were acquired in the occipital cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex with single-voxel stimulated echo acquisition mode (STEAM) spectroscopy in 14 young and 20 older adults. Macromolecular spectra were acquired in the occipital cortex using an inversion recovery STEAM sequence in four young and three older adults. The macromolecular pattern was apparent over the 0.5–4.5-ppm range in the inversion recovery spectra and the 0.5–2-ppm range in the metabolite spectra. Macromolecular content was quantified from metabolite spectra using LCModel and from inversion recovery spectra using integration. Age-associated differences in the macromolecular pattern were apparent via both types of spectra, with the largest difference observed for the 1.7- and 2-ppm macromolecular resonances. A higher macromolecular content was observed in the older adults for both brain regions. Age-specific macromolecular spectra are needed when comparing metabolite spectra from subjects of differing ages because of age-associated differences in macromolecular pattern. Age-associated pattern and content differences may provide information about the aging process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere3865
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant numbers R01AG039396, P41 EB015894, P30 NS076408) and the W. M. Keck Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • 7 T
  • macromolecules
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • ultrahigh field

Center for Magnetic Resonance Research (CMRR) tags

  • ANDI
  • SMCT


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