Quantitative proton spectroscopic imaging of the neurochemical profile in rat brain with microliter resolution at ultra-short echo times
Proton spectroscopy allows the simultaneous quantification of a high number of metabolite concentrations termed the neurochemical profile. The spin echo full intensity acquired localization (SPECIAL) scheme with an echo time of 2.7 ms was used at 9.4T for excitation of a slab parallel to a home-built quadrature surface coil in conjunction with phase encoding in the two remaining spatial dimensions to yield an effective spatial resolution of 1.7 microL. The absolute concentrations of at least 10 metabolites were calculated from the spectra of individual voxels using LCModel analysis. The calculated concentrations were used for constructing quantitative metabolic maps of the neurochemical profile in normal and pathological rat brain. Summation of individual spectra was used to assess the neurochemical profile of unique brain regions, such as corpus callosum, in rat for the first time. Following focal ischemia in rat pups, imaging the neurochemical profile indicated increased choline groups in the ischemic core and increased glutamine in the penumbra, which is proposed to reflect glutamate excitotoxicity. We conclude that it is feasible to achieve a sensitivity that is sufficient for quantitative mapping of the neurochemical profile at microliter spatial resolution.