OBJECT: Brain damage in patients with hydrocephalus is caused by mechanical forces and cerebral ischemia. The severity and localization of impaired cerebral blood flow and metabolism are still largely unknown. Magnetic resonance (MR) spectroscopy offers the opportunity to investigate cerebral energy metabolism and neuronal damage noninvasively and longitudinally. Previous 1H MR spectroscopy studies have shown an increased lactate resonance that is suggestive of anaerobic glycolysis. The aim of this study was to assess cerebral damage and energy metabolism in kaolin-induced hydrocephalus in adult rats by using in vivo 1H and 31P MR spectroscopy. The presence of lactate was correlated with high-energy phosphate metabolism and intracellular pH. The measurement of relative concentrations of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), and total creatine (tCr) served to assess neuronal damage.
METHODS: Hydrocephalus was induced in adult rats by surgical injection of kaolin into the cisterna magna. Magnetic resonance studies, using a 4.7-tesla magnet, were performed longitudinally in hydrocephalic animals at 1 (10 rats), 8 (six rats), and 16 weeks (six rats) thereafter, as well as in eight control animals. To evaluate ventricular size and white matter edema T2-weighted MR imaging was performed. The 1H MR spectra were acquired from a 240-microl voxel, positioned centrally in the brain, followed by localized 31P MR spectroscopy on a two-dimensional column that contained the entire brain but virtually no extracranial muscles. The 1H and 31P MR spectroscopy peak ratios were calculated after fitting the spectra in the time domain, intracellular pH was estimated from the inorganic phosphate (Pi) chemical shift, and T2 relaxation times of 1H metabolites were determined from the signal decay at increasing echo times.
CONCLUSIONS: In hydrocephalic rats, ventricular expansion stabilized after 8 weeks. White matter edema was most pronounced during acute hydrocephalus. Lactate peaks were increased at all time points, without a decrease in phosphocreatine (PCr)/Pi and PCr/adenosine triphosphate (ATP) peak ratios, or pH. Possibly lactate production is restricted to periventricular brain tissue, followed by its accumulation in cerebrospinal fluid, which is supported by the long lactate T2 relaxation time. Alternatively, lactate production may precede impairment of ATP homeostasis. The NAA/Cho and tCr/Cho ratios significantly decreased during the acute and chronic stages of hydrocephalus. These changes were not caused by alterations in metabolite T2 relaxation time. The decreases in the NAA/Cho and tCr/Cho ratios implicate neuronal loss/dysfunction or changes in membrane phospholipid metabolism, as in myelin damage or gliosis. It is suggested that 1H MR spectroscopy can be of additional value in the assessment of energy metabolism and cerebral damage in clinical hydrocephalus.