• magnetic resonance spectroscopy;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • skeletal muscle;
  • lipids;
  • intramyocellular lipids;
  • methodology;
  • review


1H-MR spectroscopy (MRS) of intramyocellular lipids (IMCL) became particularly important when it was recognized that IMCL levels are related to insulin sensitivity. While this relation is rather complex and depends on the training status of the subjects, various other influences such as exercise and diet also influence IMCL concentrations. This may open insight into many metabolic interactions; however, it also requires careful planning of studies in order to control all these confounding influences. This review summarizes various historical, methodological, and practical aspects of 1H-MR spectroscopy (MRS) of muscular lipids. That includes a differentiation of bulk magnetic susceptibility effects and residual dipolar coupling that can both be observed in MRS of skeletal muscle, yet affecting different metabolites in a specific way. Fitting of the intra- (IMCL) and extramyocellular (EMCL) signals with complex line shapes and the transformation into absolute concentrations is discussed. Since the determination of IMCL in muscle groups with oblique fiber orientation or in obese subjects is still difficult, potential improvement with high-resolution spectroscopic imaging or at higher field strength is considered. Fat selective imaging is presented as a possible alternative to MRS and the potential of multinuclear MRS is discussed. 1H-MRS of muscle lipids allows non-invasive and repeated studies of muscle metabolism that lead to highly relevant findings in clinics and patho-physiology. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.