MRS water resonance frequency in childhood brain tumours : a novel potential biomarker of temperature and tumour environment

Ben Babourina-brooks, Martin Wilson, Theodoros N. Arvanitis, Andrew C. Peet, Nigel P. Davies

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(1)H MRS thermometry has been investigated for brain trauma and hypothermia monitoring applications but has not been explored in brain tumours. The proton resonance frequency (PRF) of water is dependent on temperature but is also influenced by microenvironment factors, such as fast proton exchange with macromolecules, ionic concentration and magnetic susceptibility. (1)H MRS has been utilized for brain tumour diagnostic and prognostic purposes in children; however, the water PRF measure may provide complementary information to further improve characterization. Water PRF values were investigated from a repository of MRS data acquired from childhood brain tumours and children with apparently normal brains. The cohort consisted of histologically proven glioma (22), medulloblastoma (19) and control groups (28, MRS in both the basal ganglia and parietal white matter regions). All data were acquired at 1.5 T using a short TE (30 ms) single voxel spectroscopy (PRESS) protocol. Water PRF values were calculated using methyl creatine and total choline. Spectral peak amplitude weighted averaging was used to improve the accuracy of the measurements. Mean PRF values were significantly larger for medulloblastoma compared with glioma, with a difference in the means of 0.0147 ppm (p < 0.05), while the mean PRF for glioma was significantly lower than for the healthy cohort, with a difference in the means of 0.0061 ppm (p < 0.05). This would suggest the apparent temperature of the glioma group was ~1.5 °C higher than the medulloblastomas and ~0.7 °C higher than a healthy brain. However, the PRF shift may not reflect a change in temperature, given that alterations in protein content, microstructure and ionic concentration contribute to PRF shifts. Measurement of these effects could also be used as a supplementary biomarker, and further investigation is required. This study has shown that the water PRF value has the potential to be used for characterizing childhood brain tumours, which has not been reported previously.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1222-1229
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number10
Early online date14 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014


  • MRS
  • thermometry
  • brain tumours
  • paediatric
  • MRI
  • clinical
  • brain temperature
  • proton resonance frequency


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