A proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study of age-related changes in frontal lobe metabolite concentrations

Jonathan C.W. Brooks, Neil Roberts, Graham J. Kemp, Margot A. Gosney, Michael Lye, Graham H. Whitehouse

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Ageing is associated with reduction of grey matter volume and it is reported that the frontal lobes are preferentially affected. We have applied quantitative magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), incorporating measurement of brain tissue water content and metabolite T2 relaxation times, to determine absolute concentrations of the putative neuronal marker N-acetylaspartate (NAA), creatine (Cr) and choline (Cho) compounds in the frontal lobe of 50 male subjects aged between 20 and 70 years (10 per decade). The fractional brain water content (βMR) did not change significantly as a function of age (r = 0.07, P = 0.65) and had a mean value of 81% (CV = 2%). The concentration (in millimoles per litre brain tissue) of NAA decreased significantly with age (r = -0.42, P = 0.003), with an overall decrease of 12% between the third and seventh decades. The concentrations of Cr and Cho did not change significantly with age. The interpretation of the age-dependent decrease in NAA concentration as reflecting either a reduction in neuronal volume, number or function is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)598-605
Number of pages8
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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