• lithium;
  • MRSI;
  • bipolar disorder;
  • Fourier transform


This work demonstrates the first whole brain “high spatial resolution” 7Li MR spectroscopy imaging in bipolar disorder subjects. The in vivo quantification is validated by a phantom containing 5 mM lithium salt using the identical radiofrequency sequence and imaging protocol. This study is the first demonstration of the 7Li distribution in the brain of bipolar disorder patients on lithium therapy using a 3D MR spectroscopy imaging approach. The results show that brain lithium level is strongly correlated with serum lithium concentration. The brain-to-serum lithium ratios for the average brain and the local maximum were 0.39 ± 0.08 (r = 0.93) and 0.92 ± 0.16 (r = 0.90), respectively. The lithium distribution is found to be nonuniform throughout the brain for all patients, which is somewhat unexpected and highly intriguing. This uneven distribution is more evident in subjects at a higher therapeutic serum lithium level. This finding may suggest that lithium targets specific brain tissues and/or certain enzymatic and macromolecular sites that are associated with therapeutic effect. Further investigations of bipolar disorder patients on lithium therapy using 3D 7Li MR spectroscopy imaging are warranted. Magn Reson Med, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.