Anatomic imaging is now a well-developed application of magnetic resonance. Greater capabilities for physiologic characterization should become possible by concomitant application of spectroscopic methods. High-resolution in vitro spectroscopy must first provide a framework upon which in vivo and diagnostic interpretation may be based. Biochemical profiles consisting of quantitation of extracted aqueous metabolites and lipids of particular cells or organs establish an in vitro glossary for what may be found in the intact cell or living subject. A large variety of amino acids, intermediary metabolites, membrane precursors, and nucleotides are detectable in extracts of human peripheral blood lymphocytes, and significant changes in intracellular concentrations have been monitored after lectin-induced activation. Corresponding changes in lipid profile have also been noted. An increasing variety of other cells and tissues are being similarly characterized. Despite its limitations, NMR analysis possesses the unique prospect of providing a noninvasive and nondestructive source of biochemical information.
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