Comparison of different linear-combination modeling algorithms for short-TE proton spectra

Helge J. Zöllner, Michal Považan, Steve C.N. Hui, Sofie Tapper, Richard A.E. Edden, Georg Oeltzschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Short-TE proton MRS is used to study metabolism in the human brain. Common analysis methods model the data as a linear combination of metabolite basis spectra. This large-scale multi-site study compares the levels of the four major metabolite complexes in short-TE spectra estimated by three linear-combination modeling (LCM) algorithms. 277 medial parietal lobe short-TE PRESS spectra (TE = 35 ms) from a recent 3 T multi-site study were preprocessed with the Osprey software. The resulting spectra were modeled with Osprey, Tarquin and LCModel, using the same three vendor-specific basis sets (GE, Philips and Siemens) for each algorithm. Levels of total N-acetylaspartate (tNAA), total choline (tCho), myo-inositol (mI) and glutamate + glutamine (Glx) were quantified with respect to total creatine (tCr). Group means and coefficient of variations of metabolite estimates agreed well for tNAA and tCho across vendors and algorithms, but substantially less so for Glx and mI, with mI systematically estimated as lower by Tarquin. The cohort mean coefficient of determination for all pairs of LCM algorithms across all datasets and metabolites was (Formula presented.) = 0.39, indicating generally only moderate agreement of individual metabolite estimates between algorithms. There was a significant correlation between local baseline amplitude and metabolite estimates (cohort mean (Formula presented.) = 0.10). While mean estimates of major metabolite complexes broadly agree between linear-combination modeling algorithms at group level, correlations between algorithms are only weak-to-moderate, despite standardized preprocessing, a large sample of young, healthy and cooperative subjects, and high spectral quality. These findings raise concerns about the comparability of MRS studies, which typically use one LCM software and much smaller sample sizes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere4482
JournalNMR in biomedicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • linear-combination modeling, MRS, short echo-time spectra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Spectroscopy


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