In vivo determination of intra-myocellular lipids in human muscle by means of localized 1H-MR-spectroscopy



Intra-myocellular lipids (IMCL) are stored in droplets in the cytoplasm of muscle cells and are an energy storage form readily accessed during long-term exercise. 1H-MR spectroscopy methods are presented for noninvasive determination of IMCL in human muscle. This is based on (a) the separation of two resonances in the lipid-CH2-region, with the one assigned to IMCL being independent of muscle orientation relative to the magnetic field and (b) the fact that IMCL resonances scale along with signal amplitudes of metabolites in the muscle cell (e.g., creatine) when voxel size is increased, while lipid signals of bulk fat show a disproportionate growth. Inter-individual and intra-individual reproducibility studies indicate that the error of the method is about 6% and that IMCL levels differ significantly between identical muscles in different subjects, as well as intra-individually when measured at 1 week intervals. IMCL determinations in a single subject before and after strenuous exercise indicate that lipid stores recover with a t1/2 of about 1 day.