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Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) allows for the non-invasive quantification of neurochemicals and has the potential to differentiate between the pathologically distinct diseases, multiple sclerosis (MS) and AQP4Ab-positive neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (AQP4Ab-NMOSD). In this study we characterised the metabolite profiles of brain lesions in 11 MS and 4 AQP4Ab-NMOSD patients using an optimised MRS methodology at ultra-high field strength (7T) incorporating correction for T2 water relaxation differences between lesioned and normal tissue. MS metabolite results were in keeping with the existing literature: total N-acetylaspartate (NAA) was lower in lesions compared to normal appearing brain white matter (NAWM) with reciprocal findings for myo-Inositol. An unexpected subtlety revealed by our technique was that total NAA differences were likely driven by NAA-glutamate (NAAG), a ubiquitous CNS molecule with functions quite distinct from NAA though commonly quantified together with NAA in MRS studies as total NAA. Surprisingly, AQP4Ab-NMOSD showed no significant differences for total NAA, NAA, NAAG or myo-Inositol between lesion and NAWM sites, nor were there any differences between MS and AQP4Ab-NMOSD for a priori hypotheses. Post-hoc testing revealed a significant correlation between NAWM Ins:NAA and disability (as measured by EDSS) for disease groups combined, driven by the AP4Ab-NMOSD group. Utilising an optimised MRS methodology, our study highlights some under-explored subtleties in MRS profiles, such as the absence of myo-Inositol concentration differences in AQP4Ab-NMOSD brain lesions versus NAWM and the potential influence of NAAG differences between lesions and normal appearing white matter in MS.

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Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, Multiple Sclerosis, Neuroinflammatory disorders, Neuromyelitis optica, Ultra-high field MRI