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Early proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy during and after therapeutic hypothermia in perinatal hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy

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Hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) remains a significant cause of mortality and neurodevelopmental impairment despite treatment with therapeutic hypothermia. Magnetic resonance H1-spectroscopy measures concentrations of cerebral metabolites to detect derangements in aerobic metabolism.


We assessed MR spectroscopy in neonates with HIE within 18–24 h of initiating therapeutic hypothermia and at 5–6 days post therapeutic hypothermia.

Materials and methods

Eleven neonates with HIE underwent MR spectroscopy of the basal ganglia and white matter. We compared metabolite concentrations during therapeutic hypothermia and post-therapeutic hypothermia and between moderate and severe HIE.


During therapeutic hypothermia, neonates with severe HIE had decreased basal ganglia N-acetylaspartate (NAA; 0.62±0.08 vs. 0.72±0.05; P=0.02), NAA + N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG; 0.66±0.11 vs. 0.77±0.06; P=0.05), glycerophosphorylcholine + phosphatidylcholine (GPC+PCh; 0.28±0.05 vs. 0.38±0.06; P=0.02) and decreased white matter GPC+PCh (0.35±0.13 vs. 0.48±0.04; P=0.02) compared to neonates with moderate HIE. For all subjects, basal ganglia NAA decreased (−0.08±0.07; P=0.01), whereas white matter GPC+PCh increased (0.03±0.04; P=0.04) from therapeutic hypothermia MRI to post-therapeutic-hypothermia MRI. All metabolite values are expressed in mmol/L.


Decreased NAA and GPC+PCh were associated with greater HIE severity and could distinguish neonates who might benefit most from targeted additional neuroprotective therapies.

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Correspondence to Ashley M. Lucke.

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This research was supported by the Evangelina Whitlock Foundation Grant for fellows in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Lucke wrote the first draft of the manuscript. There was no honorarium, grant or other form of payment given to anyone to produce the manuscript.

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Lucke, A.M., Shetty, A.N., Hagan, J.L. et al. Early proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy during and after therapeutic hypothermia in perinatal hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy. Pediatr Radiol 49, 941–950 (2019).

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