N-acetylaspartate (NAA) appears in a prominent peak in proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) of the brain. Exhibition by NAA of time-dependent attenuation that reflects energy metabolism during the acute stage of cerebral ischemia makes this metabolite a unique biomarker for assessing ischemic stroke. Although magnetic resonance (MR) imaging is a powerful technique for inspecting the pathological changes that occur during ischemic stroke, biomarkers that directly reflect the drastic metabolic changes associated with acute-stage ischemia are strongly warranted for appropriate therapeutic decision-making in daily clinical settings. In this review, we provide a brief overview of NAA metabolism and focus on the use of attenuation in NAA as a means for assessing the pathophysiological changes that occur during the acute stage of ischemic stroke.
2015 by Japanese Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine