Technical and experimental features of Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy of brain glycogen metabolism

In the brain, glycogen is a source of glucose not only in emergency situations but also during normal brain activity. Altered brain glycogen metabolism is associated with energetic dysregulation in pathological conditions, such as diabetes or epilepsy. Both in humans and animals, brain glycogen levels have been assessed non-invasively by Carbon-13 Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (13C-MRS) in vivo. With this approach, glycogen synthesis and degradation may be followed in real time, thereby providing valuable insights into brain glycogen dynamics. However, compared to the liver and muscle, where glycogen is abundant, the sensitivity for detection of brain glycogen by 13C-MRS is inherently low. In this review we focus on strategies used to optimize the sensitivity for 13C-MRS detection of glycogen. Namely, we explore several technical perspectives, such as magnetic field strength, field homogeneity, coil design, decoupling, and localization methods. Furthermore, we also address basic principles underlying the use of 13C-labeled precursors to enhance the detectable glycogen signal, emphasizing specific experimental aspects relevant for obtaining kinetic information on brain glycogen.

Related material