1. One- and two-dimensional (correlated shift spectroscopy) high resolution proton n.m.r. spectra of human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) are reported. The merits of water suppression by freeze drying or irradiation, and spectral simplification by spin-echo methods, are discussed.

2. Well-resolved resonances for a range of low molecular weight metabolites such as lactate, 3-d-hydroxybutyrate, alanine, acetate, citrate, glucose, valine and formate were observed. Resonances for glutamine were observed only from freeze dried samples. Concentrations determined by n.m.r. were in reasonable agreement with those from conventional methods.

3. The n.m.r. spectra of CSF were related to the clinical conditions of the subjects. No resonances for citrate were present in spectra of CSF from subjects (three infants) with bacterial meningitis; high lactate and lowered glucose levels were observed. Strong resonances for glucose and glycine were observed for mildly diabetic subjects. Both the aromatic and the aliphatic regions of the CSF spectra from subjects suffering from liver failure contained distinctive features characteristic for hepatic coma: intense resonances for lactate, alanine, valine, methionine, tyrosine, phenylalanine and histidine. In some cases guanine was also present, which does not appear to have been reported previously. The two-dimensional spectrum suggested the presence of abnormally high levels of a number of endogenous metabolites. Such assignments were not possible using one-dimensional spectra alone because of signal overlap.

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