Ultra-high-field magnetic resonance spectroscopy in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: Novel mechanistic and diagnostic insights of energy metabolism in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and advanced fibrosis.
Traussnigg S., Kienbacher C., Gajdošík M., Valkovič L., Halilbasic E., Stift J., Rechling C., Hofer H., Steindl-Munda P., Ferenci P., Wrba F., Trattnig S., Krššák M., Trauner M.
BACKGROUND & AIMS: With the rising prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and steatohepatitis (NASH) non-invasive tools obtaining pathomechanistic insights to improve risk stratification are urgently needed. We therefore explored high- and ultra-high-field magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to obtain novel mechanistic and diagnostic insights into alterations of hepatic lipid, cell membrane and energy metabolism across the spectrum of NAFLD. METHODS: MRS and liver biopsy were performed in 30 NAFLD patients with NAFL (n=8) or NASH (n=22). Hepatic lipid content and composition were measured using 3-Tesla proton (1 H)-MRS. 7-Tesla phosphorus (31 P)-MRS was applied to determine phosphomonoester (PME) including phosphoethanolamine (PE), phosphodiester (PDE) including glycerophosphocholine (GPC), phosphocreatine (PCr), nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADPH), inorganic phosphate (Pi), γ-ATP and total phosphorus (TP). Saturation transfer technique was used to quantify hepatic ATP flux. RESULTS: Hepatic steatosis in 1 H-MRS highly correlated with histology (P<.001) showing higher values in NASH than NAFL (P<.001) without differences in saturated or unsaturated fatty acid indices. PE/TP ratio increased with advanced fibrosis (F3/4) (P=.002) whereas GPC/PME+PDE decreased (P=.05) compared to no/mild fibrosis (F0-2). γ-ATP/TP was lower in advanced fibrosis (P=.049), while PCr/TP increased (P=.01). NADPH/TP increased with higher grades of ballooning (P=.02). Pi-to-ATP exchange rate constant (P=.003) and ATP flux (P=.001) were lower in NASH than NAFL. CONCLUSIONS: Ultra-high-field MRS, especially saturation transfer technique uncovers changes in energy metabolism including dynamic ATP flux in inflammation and fibrosis in NASH. Non-invasive profiling by MRS appears feasible and may assist further mechanistic and therapeutic studies in NAFLD/NASH.