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Abnormalities in glutamate neurotransmission are linked to psychotic symptoms and cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) provides an acceptable means of measuring glutamate in the human brain but findings from patient studies at conventional magnetic field strength show considerable heterogeneity. Ultra-high-field MRS offers greater precision in glutamate measurement, particularly in delineation of glutamate from its precursor and metabolite, glutamine. This study aimed to use high-field (7 T) MRS to measure concentrations of glutamate and glutamine in three brain regions, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and putamen (PUT), in young men with early psychosis. MRS was performed in 17 male participants with early psychosis and 18 healthy age-matched controls. Neurometabolite levels were calculated with unsuppressed water signal as the reference and corrected for individual grey matter, white matter and cerebrospinal fluid concentration. Cognitive function was measured with the Brief Assessment of Cognition in Schizophrenia (BACS). Compared to controls, patients with early psychosis had lower concentrations of glutamate and glutamine in ACC. No differences were apparent in the DLPFC and PUT. In patients with early psychosis, there was a highly significant correlation between glutamate concentration in ACC and performance on the BACS, though the numbers available for this analysis were small. Our finding of lower glutamate levels in ACC in patients with schizophrenia is consistent with a recent meta-analysis of 7 T studies and suggests that this abnormality is present in both patients with early psychosis and those with longer-established illness. The possible link between ACC glutamate and cognitive performance requires replication in larger studies.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/s41398-021-01477-6

Type

Journal article

Journal

Transl Psychiatry

Publication Date

17/06/2021

Volume

11