Magnetic resonance spectroscopy as marker for neurodegeneration in X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy

Stephanie I.W. van de Stadt*, Anouk Schrantee, Irene C. Huffnagel, Wouter J.C. van Ballegoij, Matthan W.A. Caan, Petra J.W. Pouwels, Marc Engelen

*Corresponding author for this work

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X-linked adrenoleukodsytrophy (ALD) is a genetic neuro-metabolic disorder, causing a slowly progressive myelopathy in adult male and female patients. New disease modifying therapies for myelopathy are under development. This calls for new (imaging) markers able to measure disease severity and progression in clinical trials. In this prospective cohort study, we measured cerebral metabolite levels with Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), and evaluated their potential as biomarkers for disease severity and neurodegeneration in ALD. We used a comprehensive protocol of 3T Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopic Imaging (MRSI) and 7T Single Voxel Spectroscopy (SVS) in a large cohort of adult ALD males without cerebral demyelination. One hundred seven baseline scans – 59 obtained in ALD patients (42 3T MRSI and 17 7T SVS) and 48 obtained in healthy male controls (32 3T MRSI and 16 7T SVS) – and 82 one and two-year follow-up scans (66 3T MRSI and 16 7T SVS) of ALD patients were included. Both protocols showed significantly lower concentration ratios of N-acetylaspartate/creatine (tNAA/tCr) and Glx (glutamine + glutamate)/tCr in the grey and white matter of patients, compared to controls. A novel finding is the higher level of inositol (Ins)/tCr and choline containing compounds (tCho)/tCr in ALD patients without cerebral demyelination. Furthermore, tNAA/tCr correlated strongly with clinical measures of severity of myelopathy. There was no detectable change in metabolite ratios after one-year or two-year follow-up. Our results imply that cerebral metabolite levels – and more specifically the tNAA/tCr ratio – measured with MRS, have potential value as (imaging) biomarkers in ALD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102793
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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