Skeletal muscle phosphorus-31 31P MRS is the oldest MRS methodology to be applied to in vivo metabolic research. The technical requirements of 31P MRS in skeletal muscle depend on the research question, and to assess those questions requires understanding both the relevant muscle physiology, and how 31P MRS methods can probe it. Here we consider basic signal-acquisition parameters related to radio frequency excitation, TR, TE, spectral resolution, shim and localisation. We make specific recommendations for studies of resting and exercising muscle, including magnetisation transfer, and for data processing. We summarise the metabolic information that can be quantitatively assessed with 31P MRS, either measured directly or derived by calculations that depend on particular metabolic models, and we give advice on potential problems of interpretation. We give expected values and tolerable ranges for some measured quantities, and minimum requirements for reporting acquisition parameters and experimental results in publications. Reliable examination depends on a reproducible setup, standardised preconditioning of the subject, and careful control of potential difficulties, and we summarise some important considerations and potential confounders. Our recommendations include the quantification and standardisation of contraction intensity, and how best to account for heterogeneous muscle recruitment. We highlight some pitfalls in the assessment of mitochondrial function by analysis of phosphocreatine (PCr) recovery kinetics. Finally, we outline how complementary techniques (near-infrared spectroscopy, arterial spin labelling, BOLD and various other MRI and 1H MRS measurements) can help in the physiological/metabolic interpretation of 31P MRS studies by providing information about blood flow and oxygen delivery/utilisation. Our recommendations will assist in achieving the fullest possible reliable picture of muscle physiology and pathophysiology.
- nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
- phosphorus MRS