Age-related Brain Metabolic Changes up to Seventh Decade in Healthy Humans: Whole-brain Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging Study

Helen Maghsudi, Martin Schütze, Andrew A. Maudsley, Mete Dadak, Heinrich Lanfermann, Xiao Qi Ding

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: To study brain metabolic changes under normal aging and to collect reference data for the study of neurodegenerative diseases. Methods: A total of 55 healthy subjects aged 20–70 years (n ≥ 5 per age decade for each gender) underwent whole-brain magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging at 3T after completing a DemTect test and the Beck depressions inventory II to exclude cognitive impairment and mental disorder. Regional concentrations of N–acetylaspartate (NAA), choline-containing compounds (Cho), total creatine (tCr), glutamine and glutamate (Glx), and myo-inositol (mI) were determined in 12 brain regions of interest (ROIs). The two-sided t‑test was used to estimate gender differences and linear regression analysis was carried out to estimate age dependence of brain regional metabolite contents. Results: Brain regional metabolite concentrations changed with age in the majority of selected brain regions. The NAA decreased in 8 ROIs with a rate varying from −4.9% to −1.9% per decade, reflecting a general reduction of brain neuronal function or volume and density in older age; Cho increased in 4 ROIs with a rate varying from 4.3% to 6.1%; tCr and mI increased in one ROI (4.2% and 8.2% per decade, respectively), whereas Glx decreased in one ROI (−5.1% per decade), indicating an inhomogeneous increase of cell membrane turnover (Cho) with altered energy metabolism (tCr) and glutamatergic neuronal activity (Glx) as well as function of glia cell (mI) in normal aging brain. Conclusion: Healthy aging up to the seventh decade of life is associated with regional dependent alterations of brain metabolism. These results provide a reference database for future studies of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Neuroradiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Healthy aging
  • Human brain metabolites
  • Whole-brain MR spectroscopic imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Clinical Neurology


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