Purpose: The detection and quantification of metabolites relevant for the diagnosis of fatal metabolic disorders by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) was recently demonstrated. This prospective study aimed to compare the concentrations of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), glucose (GLC), and lactate (LAC) derived from both biochemical analyses and 1H-MRS for the diagnosis of fatal metabolic disorders.
Methods: In total, 20 cases with suspected fatal metabolic disorders were included in the study. For the agreement based on thresholds, the concentrations of BHB and GLC in the vitreous humor (VH) from the right vitreous and in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the right lateral ventricle were derived from 1H-MRS and biochemical analyses. The predefined thresholds for pathological elevations were 2.5 mmol/l for BHB and 10 mmol/l for GLC based on the literature. In addition, concentrations of the same metabolites in white matter (WM) tissue from the corona radiata of the right hemisphere were analyzed experimentally using both methods. To enable the biochemical analysis, a dialysate of WM tissue was produced. For all three regions, the LAC concentration was determined by both methods.
Results: The conclusive agreement based on thresholds was almost perfect between both methods with only one disagreement in a total of 70 comparisons due to the interference of a ferromagnetic dental brace. The differences in the concentrations between both methods showed high standard deviations. Confidence intervals of the bias not including 0 were found in CSF-GLC (− 3.1 mmol/l), WM-GLC (1.1 mmol/l), and WM-LAC (− 6.5 mmol/l).
Conclusion: Despite a considerable total error attributable to both methods, MRS derives the same forensic conclusions as conventional biochemical analyses. An adaptation of the protocol to reduce the detected errors and more data are needed for the long-term validation of MRS for the diagnosis of fatal metabolic disorders. The production of WM dialysates cannot be recommended due to high glycolytic loss.