Article

AGE

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 251-264

Metabolic changes in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices of the normal aging brain: proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study at 3 T

  • Pui-Wai ChiuAffiliated withDepartment of Diagnostic Radiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong
  • , Henry Ka-Fung MakAffiliated withDepartment of Diagnostic Radiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong KongAlzheimer’s Disease Research Network, The University of Hong KongResearch Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone and Healthy Aging, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong KongQueen Mary Hospital Email author 
  • , Kelvin Kai-Wing YauAffiliated withDepartment of Management Sciences, City University of Hong Kong
  • , Queenie ChanAffiliated withDepartment of Diagnostic Radiology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong KongPhilips Healthcare
  • , Raymond Chuen-Chung ChangAffiliated withLaboratory of Neurodegenerative Disease, Department of Anatomy, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong KongAlzheimer’s Disease Research Network, The University of Hong KongResearch Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone and Healthy Aging, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong
  • , Leung-Wing ChuAffiliated withDivision of Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, Queen Mary HospitalAlzheimer’s Disease Research Network, The University of Hong KongResearch Centre of Heart, Brain, Hormone and Healthy Aging, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong

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Abstract

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) can explore aging at a molecular level. In this study, we investigated the relationships between regional concentrations of metabolites (such as choline, creatine, myo-inositol, and N-acetyl-aspartate) and normal aging in 30 cognitively normal subjects (15 women and 15 men, age range 22–82, mean = 49.9 ± 18.3 years) using quantitative proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. All MR scans were performed using a 3 T scanner. Point resolved spectroscopy was used as the volume selection method for the region-of-interest and the excitation method for water suppression. Single voxel spectroscopy with short echo time of 39 ms and repetition time of 2,000 ms was employed. Single voxels were placed in the limbic regions, i.e., anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and left and right hippocampi. Cerebrospinal fluid normalization and T1 and T2 correction factors were implemented in the calculation of absolute metabolite concentrations. A standardized T1W 3D volumetric fast field echo and axial T2-weighted fast spin-echo images were also acquired. Our results showed significant positive correlation of choline (r = 0.545, p = 0.002), creatine (r = 0.571, p = 0.001), and N-acetyl-aspartate (r = 0.674, p < 0.001) in the ACC; choline (r = 0.614, p < 0.001), creatine (r = 0.670, p < 0.001), and N-acetyl-aspartate (r = 0.528, p = 0.003) in the PCC; and NAA (r = 0.409, p = 0.025) in the left hippocampus, with age. No significant gender effect on metabolite concentrations was found. In aging, increases in choline and creatine might suggest glial proliferation, and an increase in N-acetyl-aspartate might indicate neuronal hypertrophy. Such findings highlight the metabolic changes of ACC and PCC with age, which could be compensatory to an increased energy demand coupled with a lower cerebral blood flow.

Keywords

Aging Anterior cingulate cortex Posterior cingulate cortex Magnetic resonance spectroscopy Neuronal hypertrophy Absolute quantification