Brain intracellular metabolites are freely diffusing along cell fibers in grey and white matter, as measured by diffusion-weighted MR spectroscopy in the human brain at 7 T
The apparent diffusion coefficients (ADCs) of water and brain metabolites were determined by proton MR spectroscopy on a clinical MR scanner for healthy volunteers and for pathological changes in cases of acute cerebral infarction and brain tumor. The ADCs of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) and creatines in tissue involved in acute infarction were decreased compared to normal control values, while in tumors they showed increased values. Since NAA is a neuronal marker, these findings suggest that neuronal cell viscosity changes according to the pathological status of the tissue. The lactate ADC was significantly larger than the values for other major metabolites in cases of ischemia and tumor, suggesting that lactate is present in a different compartment. These results indicate that metabolite diffusion data can be used to reveal changes in the intracellular environment depending on the pathological status.