Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy in the Study of Whole‐animal Metabolism


NMR‐active isotopes are present in living systems and, because the radiofrequency of nuclear magnetic resonance experiments is non‐ionizing, NMR signals can be obtained noninvasively and nondestructively from whole living organisms.

Keywords: non‐invasive; in vivo; isotopomer; isotope

Figure 1.

ISIS‐localized 31P MR spectrum, obtained at 4.7 T from MCF‐7 human breast cancer xenograft growing in the mammary fat pad of a SCID mouse. Spectral volume was 1 cm3 and acquisition time was 30 min. Abbreviations: 3‐APP, 3‐aminopropylphosphonate; PEtn, phosphoethanolamine; PCho, phosphocholine; Pi, inorganic phosphate; GPC, glycerophosphorylcholine; PCr, phosphocreatine; γ‐,α‐,β‐ NTP, terminal, primary and middle phosphates of nucleoside triphosphates (e.g. GTP, ATP). Prior to spectroscopy, the mouse was injected with 3‐APP, a nontoxic extracellular pH marker. Intra‐ and extracellular pH values are determined from the chemical shifts of Pi and 3‐APP, respectively.

Figure 2.

Images of a 12‐mm‐thick axial section using identical fields‐of‐view from a human patient, acquired at a field strength of 1.5 T. (a) Conventional T2‐weighted fast spin echo MRI. (b) Conventional postcontrast T1‐weighted MRI. (c) Map of choline intensities. (d) Image of the apparent water diffusion coefficient. The spectroscopic image (c) was acquired with a repetition time of 2.3 s and an echo time of 272 ms, and is shown at the nominal volume resolution (10 × 10 × 12 mm) without smoothing. Courtesy of J.R. Alger, Department of Radiology, UCLA.

Figure 3.

19F spectra from tumours of HT‐29 human colon cancer cells growing in Nude mice treated with 5‐fluorocytosine. Spectrum (a) was obtained from tumours of control HT‐29neo cells. Spectrum (b) was obtained from tumours of HT‐29 cells transfected with the cytidyltransferase gene from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Surface coillocalized spectra were obtained from volumes of approximately 1 cm × 1 cm × 1 cm in an acquisition time of 12 min. Abbreviations: 5‐FC, 5‐fluorocytosine; 5‐FU, 5‐fluorouracil; FNuc, fluorinated nucleotides; FβAl, fluoro‐β‐D‐alanine. Reprinted with permission from Stegman LD, Rehemtulla A, Beattie B et al. (1999) Noninvasive quantitation of cytosine deaminase transgene expression in human tumor xenografts with in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA96: 9821–9826.



Bottomley PA (1984) Selective volume method for performing localized NMR spectroscopy. US Patent No. 4,480,228.

Bottomley PA, Foster TB and Darrow RD (1984) Depth‐resolved surface‐coil spectroscopy (DRESS) for in vivo H‐l, P‐31, and C‐13 NMR. Journal of Magnetic Resonance 59: 338–342.

Frahm J, Bruhn H, Gyngell ML et al. (1989) Localized high‐resolution proton NMR spectroscopy using stimulated echoes: initial applications to human brain in vivo. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 9: 79–93.

Kimmich R and Hoepfel D (1987) Volume‐selective multipulse spin‐echo spectroscopy. Journal of Magnetic Resonance 72: 379–384.

Moonen CT, von Kienlin M, van Zijl PC et al. (1989) Comparison of single‐shot localization methods (STEAM and PRESS) for in vivo proton NMR spectroscopy. NMR in Biomedicine 2: 201–208.

Ordidge RJ, Connelly A and Lohman JAB (1986) Image‐selected in vivo spectroscopy (ISIS) – a new technique for spatially selective NMR‐spectroscopy. Journal of Magnetic Resonance 66: 283–294.

Robitaille PM, Merkle H, Lew B et al. (1990) Transmural high energy phosphate distribution and response to alterations in workload in the normal canine myocardium as studied with spatially localized 31P NMR spectroscopy. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 16: 91–116.

Roemer PB, Edelstein WA, Hayes CE, Souza SP and Mueller OM (1990) The NMR phased array. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 16: 192–225.

Sauter R, Mueller S and Weber H (1987) Localization in in vivo P‐31 NMR‐spectroscopy by combining surface coils and slice‐selective saturation. Journal of Magnetic Resonance 75: 167–173.

Shungu DC and Glickson JD (1994) Band‐selective spin echoes for in vivo localized 1H NMR spectroscopy. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 32: 277–284.

Tannus A and Garwood M (1997) Adiabatic pulses. NMR in Biomedicine 10: 423–434.

Further Reading

Gadian D (1982) NMR and its Applications to Living Systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gillies RJ (ed.) (1994) NMR and its Application to Physiology and Biomedicine. Orlando: Academic Press.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Gillies, Robert J, and Raghunand, Natarajan(Apr 2001) Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy in the Study of Whole‐animal Metabolism. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003102]