Research & Publications
Dr. Mason's research program is focused on the development and evaluation of quantitative hypotheses of brain energy utilization, neurotransmitter metabolism, and function, as well as their application to neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Mason's primary methodologies are 1H, 2H, and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mathematical modeling of metabolism and enzyme kinetics, and the effects of alcohol and other substances on GABA, glutamate, and energy metabolism form a primary research focus for his program.
MRS uses technology that is similar to that of standard MRI, but the results are measurements of chemicals instead of images. The chemical measurements are used to measure the effects of variability in function, disease, and pharmacology on the concentrations of brain glutamate, glutamine, GABA and other compounds that are important for brain activity.
Among the most unique capacities of this laboratory is the ability to use MRS to measure metabolic rates with the stable isotope 13C by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. It is possible to observe the synthesis of glutamate, glutamine, GABA, and other compounds in the intact brain, with collaborative studies to examine other systems. Measurements of the synthesis of these compounds provide an assessment of neurotransmission and energetics in the brain. To plan experiments and evaluate data, mathematical simulations of brain metabolism are used with a user-friendly package called CWave, which allows a user to simulate the flow of isotopic labels through metabolism and follow their distribution in various isotopomeric patterns. As theories are developed, new experiments planned, and new data obtained, the models are constantly under revision and expansion.
The goals of the laboratory are to acquire the necessary data and create concrete mathematical expressions of the metabolic regulation of metabolism in the brain and other systems. Such expressions will help understand basic biochemical regulation, aid the development and evaluation of pharmacologic agents, and predict the effects of functional perturbations on the health and activity of the human brain.
Extensive Research Description
Dr. Mason's research integrates quantitative approaches to measure functional brain chemistry and the study of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and neuropsychiatric disorders. The primary methods used are 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy, with some studies using mass spectrometry, as well as the mathematical assessment of metabolism. Current areas of research include alcohol effects, depression, alcoholism, and post-traumatic stress disorder. His primary areas of interest are the effects of alcohol on the brain, and to that end, his research evaluates acute and chronic effects of alcohol and its oxidation on the brain, from the perspectives of neurotransmission, metabolism, adaptation, and vulnerability to dependence.
Alcoholic Intoxication; Alcoholism; Amino Acids; Carbohydrates; Central Nervous System Diseases; Fatty Acids; Mathematical Computing; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome; Mood Disorders; Alcohol-Induced Disorders, Nervous System; Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action; Physiological Effects of Drugs; Neuroimaging
Public Health Interests
Mental Health; Metabolism; Modeling; Substance Use, Addiction
- Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy: basic principles and recent findings in neuropsychiatric disordersMason GF, Krystal JH, Sanacora G. Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy: basic principles and recent findings in neuropsychiatric disorders. In Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry, Wolters Kluwer (Sadock BJ, Sadock VA, Ruiz P, eds.) (in press)
- A novel biomarker of neuronal glutamate metabolism in non-human primate using localized 1H MRS: Development and effects of BNC375, an α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor positive allosteric modulator.Miller CO, Liza T. Gantert LT, Previs SF, Chen Y, Anderson KD, Thomas JM, Sanacora S, Uslaner JM, Rothman DL, Mason GF. Biol Psych: Cogn Neurosci Neuroimag (in press)