N-acetylaspartate (NAA) peak

N-acetylaspartate (NAA) is one of the more important compounds assessed on MR spectroscopy, and resonates at 2.0 ppm chemical shift (its concentration in healthy adults is 8-10 mM) 1. The synthesis of NAA, adenosine diphosphate-dependent, occurs in the neuronal mitochondria 2.

NAA is the acetylated form of the amino acid, aspartate, which is found in high concentrations in neurons and is a marker of neuronal viability. It is therefore reduced in any process that destroys neurons, such as high grade tumors, radionecrosis, non-neuronal tumors (e.g. cerebral metastases and primary CNS lymphoma). 

Markedly elevated NAA peak and NAA: creatinine ratio are pathognomonic for Canavan disease 7. The NAA peak level may decrease after gene therapy.

Many studies have shown the reduction of NAA, in specific brain areas, in schizophrenic patients: hippocampus, mesial regions of the temporal lobes and frontal lobes 3-6.

Imaging technology

Article information

rID: 27827
Tag: refs, stub, stub, refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • N-acetylaspartate peak
  • N-acetylaspartate (NAA)

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.