Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Is there a way to measure ATP usage in the brain (or anywhere else) similarly to how fMRI works (measuring changes in iron resonance in oxygenated/deoxygenated blood)? Is there some sort of similar signal that can be used for ATP?

share|improve this question

I'm pretty sure this doesn't exist. If it did, that would be awesome.

The following is 100% pure speculation with nothing to back this up at all (as a disclaimer).

Phosphorus-31 (the stable isotope) is NMR active, which means that you could theoretically use an MRI machine to visualize phosphorus. A quick google search shows scientists attempting to use phosphorus MRI for visualizing bone structure.

I don't really know much about MRI, but I do know some about small molecule NMR, which is based on the same principles. This is a pretty cool paper showing phosphorus-31 NMR used to measure ATP synthesis.

Maybe in the distant future it could be possible to use phosphorus-31 MRI to visualize ATP/ADP ratios in various tissues, including the brain. But that would be some amazing sci-fi stuff.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.