• leptin;
  • computer-assisted image analysis;
  • cross-sectional anatomy;
  • animal models;
  • investigative techniques


Objective: To assess proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) as a means to distinguish among mice with disparate intra-abdominal body fat compositions, and to measure changes in intra-abdominal fat burden during weight loss and regain.

Research Methods and Procedures: Intra-abdominal fat burden was analyzed as a ratio of integrated areas under the curves of fat to water 1H-MRS signals collected from a region of interest standardized across B6.V-Lepob, C57BL/6, and A-ZIP/F mice that exhibited various genotypically related body fat compositions, ranging from obese (B6.V-Lepob) to minimal body fat (A-ZIP/F). 1H-MRS analysis of fat burden was compared with intra-abdominal fat volume and with a single cross-sectional intra-abdominal fat area calculated from segmented magnetic resonance images. Similar measurements were made from obese B6.V-Lepob mice before, during, and after they were induced to lose weight by leptin administration.

Results: Relative amounts of intra-abdominal fat analyzed by 1H-MRS differed significantly according to body composition and genotype of the three strains of mice (p < 0.05). Intra-abdominal fat assessed by 1H-MRS correlated with both intra-abdominal fat volume (r = 0.88, p < 0.001) and body weight (r = 0.82, p < 0.001) among, but not within, all three genotypes. During weight loss and regain, there was a significant overall pattern of changes in intra-abdominal fat quantity that occurred, which was reflected by 1H-MRS (p = 0.006).

Discussion: Results support the use of localized 1H-MRS for assessing differences in intra-abdominal fat. Refinements in 1H-MRS voxel region of interest size and location as well as instrument precision may result in improved correlations within certain body compositions.