Our purpose is to detect the metabolic alterations in acute stroke-like lesions (SLLs) and further investigate the correlations between metabolic concentrations and focal cerebral blood flow in patients with mitochondrial myopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes (MELAS) using proton MR spectroscopy (H-MRS) and arterial spin labeling (ASL). A total of 23 patients with MELAS at acute stage of stroke-like episodes (SLEs) and 20 normal controls (NC) were recruited in this study, respectively. All subjects underwent conventional MRI andH-MRS. In addition, ASL was performed in each patient. The measurements of creatine (Cr), choline (Cho), N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), lactate (Lac), glutamine/glutamate (Glx) levels and the ratios of Cho/Cr, NAA/Cr, Lac/Cr and Glx/Cr in acute SLLs for MELAS patients and left parietal and occipital lobes for NC were measured using LC-model software. Furthermore, in MELAS group, the associations between relative cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and metabolite concentrations in acute SLLs were also assessed. In MELAS group, acute SLLs were identified with metabolic abnormalities and increased rCBF. Specifically, compared with controls, MELAS patients exhibited significantly higher Lac, Cho levels and Lac/Cr, Cho/Cr ratios, and lower NAA, Glx levels and NAA/Cr and Glx/Cr ratios. Moreover, for MELAS patients, Lac concentration in acute SLLs was positively correlated with focal rCBF. This study exhibited the neural injury with increasing lactate and cerebral blood flow in the acute SLEs. It might shed light on the underlying biochemical mechanism of mitochondrial cytopathy and angiopathy in MELAS.
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