Analysis of living tissue by phosphorus-31 magnetic resonance

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Science  14 Jan 1977:
Vol. 195, Issue 4274, pp. 145-149
DOI: 10.1126/science.188132


Nuclear magnetic resonance is a new method for assaying the content of phosphate metabolites in intact tissues. Its nondestructive nature allows simultaneous and repeated determinations of these compounds with a minimum perturbation of tissue. Changes in the concentrations of the phosphates as a function of time characterize the metabolic machinery of the tissue and reveal alterations in enzymic activity that result from drug treatment or disease. The entire phosphate profile shows differences between normal and diseased muscle which should be of diagnostic value. Further, by examining phosphate profiles we detected a family of chemical compounds that were not previously known to exist as major constituents in muscle. Of these, two have been isolated and one has been identified as glycerol 3-phosphorylcholine. Finally, shifts in the positions of resonances monitor the internal environment of the living system, its hydrogen ion concentration, the complexing of alkaline earth metals with ATP, and compartmentalization within the cell.