Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) allows for the non-invasive quantification of neurochemicals and has the potential to differentiate between the pathologically distinct diseases, multiple sclerosis (MS) and AQP4Ab-positive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (AQP4Ab-NMOSD). In this study we characterised the metabolite profiles of brain lesions in 11 MS and 4 AQP4Ab-NMOSD patients using an optimised MRS methodology at ultra-high field strength (7T) incorporating correction for T2 water relaxation differences between lesioned and normal tissue. MS metabolite results were in keeping with the existing literature: total N-acetylaspartate (NAA) was lower in lesions compared to normal appearing brain white matter (NAWM) with reciprocal findings for myo-Inositol. An unexpected subtlety revealed by our technique was that total NAA differences were likely driven by NAA-glutamate (NAAG), a ubiquitous CNS molecule with functions quite distinct from NAA though commonly quantified together with NAA in MRS studies as total NAA. Surprisingly, AQP4Ab-NMOSD showed no significant differences for total NAA, NAA, NAAG or myo-Inositol between lesion and NAWM sites, nor were there any differences between MS and AQP4Ab-NMOSD for a priori hypotheses. Post-hoc testing revealed a significant correlation between NAWM Ins:NAA and disability (as measured by EDSS) for disease groups combined, driven by the AP4Ab-NMOSD group. Utilising an optimised MRS methodology, our study highlights some under-explored subtleties in MRS profiles, such as the absence of myo-Inositol concentration differences in AQP4Ab-NMOSD brain lesions versus NAWM and the potential influence of NAAG differences between lesions and normal appearing white matter in MS.
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuroinflammatory disorders, Neuromyelitis optica, Ultra-high field MRI