A comparison of sLASER and MEGA-sLASER using simultaneous interleaved acquisition for measuring GABA in the human brain at 7T
γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the major inhibitory neurotransmitter, is challenging to measure using proton spectroscopy due to its relatively low concentration, J-coupling and overlapping signals from other metabolites. Currently, the prevalent methods for detecting GABA at ultrahigh field strengths (≥ 7 T) are GABA-editing and model fitting of non-editing single voxel spectra. These two acquisition approaches have their own advantages: the GABA editing approach directly measures the GABA
... ce at 3 ppm, whereas the fitting approach on the non-editing spectrum allows the detection of multiple metabolites, and has an SNR advantage over longer echo time (TE) acquisitions. This study aims to compare these approaches for estimating GABA at 7 T. We use an interleaved sequence of semi-LASER (sLASER: TE = 38 ms) and MEGA-sLASER (TE = 80 ms). This simultaneous interleaved acquisition minimizes the differential effect of extraneous factors, and enables an accurate comparison of the two acquisition methods. Spectra were acquired with an 8 ml isotropic voxel at six different brain regions: anterior-cingulate cortex, dorsolateral-prefrontal cortex, motor cortex, occipital cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and precuneus. Spectral fitting with LCModel quantified the GABA to total Cr (tCr: Creatine + Phosphocreatine) concentration ratio. After correcting the T2 relaxation time variation, GABA/tCr ratios were similar between the two acquisition approaches. GABA editing showed smaller spectral fitting error according to Cramér-Rao lower bound than the sLASER approach for all regions examined. We conclude that both acquisition methods show similar accuracy but the precision of the MEGA-editing approach is higher for GABA measurement. In addition, the 2.28 ppm GABA resonance was found to be important for estimating GABA concentration without macromolecule contamination in the GABA-edited acquisition, when utilizing spectral fitting with LCModel.