Early Temporal Variation of Cerebral Metabolites After Human Stroke: A Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study

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Abstract

Background and Purpose

Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy has documented declines in normal metabolites and long-term elevation of lactate signal after stroke in humans. Within days of stroke, leukocytes infiltrating the infarct zone may produce much of the lactate seen in the subacute and chronic periods.

Methods

We examined 10 patients by localized proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy with one-dimensional spectroscopic imaging within the first 60 hours after acute nonhemorrhagic cerebral infarction, a period before abundant leukocyte infiltration. Follow-up studies on day 8 to 17 after stroke were performed on 7 of these patients.

Results

Initially, the lactate magnetic resonance signal was elevated in all patients. The N-acetyl-aspartate peak within the lesion was reduced below contralateral normal brain in all but two. At subsequent examination, significant declines had occurred in lesion maximum lactate and N-acetyl-aspartate signals, with average changes of −36 ± 11% per week and −29 ± 9% per week, respectively. Declines in lesion creatine/phosphocreatine and in choline-containing compound peaks occurred in some patients but did not attain statistical significance for the group as a whole. Estimated lesion volume correlated positively with both total (r=.75, P=.012) and lesion maximum (r=.74, P=.015) lactate signal.

Conclusions

Elevated lactate signal is reliably detectable by magnetic resonance spectroscopy after acute cerebral infarction in humans. Clearance of lactate occurs despite the potential contribution of lactate-producing leukocytes in the subacute stage. Delayed loss of N-acetyl-aspartate signal in second examinations suggests that late death of viable cells may occur within the first 2 weeks after cerebral infarction.

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