Increased Glutamine in Patients Undergoing Long-term Treatment for Schizophrenia A Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study at 3 T

JAMA Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 12.01). 01/2014; 71(3). DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.3939
Source: PubMed


IMPORTANCE The N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor hypofunction model of schizophrenia predicts a paradoxical increase in synaptic glutamate release. In vivo measurement of glutamatergic neurotransmission in humans is challenging, but glutamine, the principal metabolite of synaptic glutamate, can be quantified with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). Although a few studies have measured glutamate, glutamine, and glutamine to glutamate ratio, it is not clear which of these 1H-MRS indices of glutamatergic neurotransmission is altered in schizophrenia. OBJECTIVE To examine glutamine, glutamate, and glutamine to glutamate ratio in the dorsal anterior cingulate, as well as their relationships with symptoms and cognition in schizophrenia. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Cross-sectional design using 3-T 1H-MRS in participants recruited from university-based psychiatric outpatient clinics who underwent neuroimaging at an affiliated research facility. Participants were 84 patients with a DSM-IV-TR diagnosis of schizophrenia and 81 psychiatrically healthy volunteers, matched in age, sex, ethnicity, and occupational level to the head of household of family of origin. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Glutamine, glutamate, and glutamine to glutamate ratio. Also symptoms and cognition. RESULTS Glutamine was increased in the schizophrenia group (P = .01) as well as the glutamine to glutamate ratio (P = .007) but not glutamate (P = .89). Glutamine levels were positively correlated with severity of psychotic symptoms (P = .02). Choline was also increased in schizophrenia (P = .002). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Elevated glutamine, which was directly related to psychotic symptoms, is consistent with increased glutamatergic synaptic release in schizophrenia, as predicted by the N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor hypofunction model. Further understanding the underlying mechanism of glutamatergic dysfunction in schizophrenia may lead to new pharmacological strategies to treat psychosis.

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    • "Specifically, schizophrenia patients have exhibited increased concentrations of glutamatergic metabolites if the patients were in a first-episode and conversely, decreased concentrations if the patients had a chronic disease (Ohrmann et al., 2005; Ohrmann et al., 2008; Marsman et al., 2013; Schwerk et al., 2014). A recent study, investigating schizophrenia patients showed elevated Gln and Gln-to-Glu ratio but no significant difference in Glu levels in patients when compared to healthy comparisons (Bustillo et al., 2014). Our findings in a cohort of chronic schizophrenia patients exhibited decreased Glu concentrations at trend level for schizophrenia patients when compared to healthy participants and no change for Glx concentrations were observed. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Superior temporal cortices include brain regions dedicated to auditory processing and several lines of evidence suggest structural and functional abnormalities in both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder within this brain region. However, possible glutamatergic dysfunction within this region has not been investigated in adult patients. Methods: Thirty patients with schizophrenia (38.67 ± 12.46 years of age), 28 euthymic patients with bipolar I disorder (35.32 ± 9.12 years of age), and 30 age-, gender- and education- matched healthy controls were enrolled. Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy data were acquired using a 3.0T Siemens MAGNETOM TIM Trio MR system and single voxel Point Resolved Spectroscopy Sequence (PRESS) in order to quantify brain metabolites within the left and right Heschl Gyrus and Planum Temporale of superior temporal cortices. Results: There were significant abnormalities in Glutamate (Glu) (F(2,78)=8.52, p<0.0001), n- Acetyl Aspartate (tNAA) (F(2,81)=5.73, p=0.005), Creatine (tCr) (F(2,83)=5.91, p=0.004) and Inositol (Ins) (F(2,82)=8.49, p<0.0001) concentrations in the left superior temporal cortex. In general, metabolite levels were lower for bipolar disorder patients when compared to healthy participants. Moreover, patients with bipolar disorder exhibited significantly lower tCr and Ins concentrations when compared to schizophrenia patients. In addition, we have found significant correlations between the superior temporal cortex metabolites and clinical measures. Conclusion: As the left auditory cortices are associated with language and speech, left hemisphere specific abnormalities may have clinical significance. Our findings are suggestive of shared glutamatergic abnormalities in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
    No preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Schizophrenia Research
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    ABSTRACT: Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) is often used to estimate the concentration of several brain metabolites. Abnormalities in these concentrations can indicate specific pathology, which can be quite useful in understanding the disease mechanism underlying those changes. Due to higher concentration, metabolites such as N-acetylaspartate (NAA), Creatine (Cr) and Choline (Cho) can be readily estimated using standard Fourier transform techniques. However, metabolites such as Glutamate (Glu) and Glutamine (Gln) occur in significantly lower concentrations and their resonance peaks are very close to each other making it difficult to accurately estimate their concentrations (separately). In this work, we propose to use the theory of 'Spectral Zooming' or high-resolution spectral analysis to separate the Glutamate and Glutamine peaks and accurately estimate their concentrations. The method works by estimating a unique power spectral density, which corresponds to the maximum entropy solution of a zero-mean stationary Gaussian process. We demonstrate our estimation technique on several physical phantom data sets as well as on in-vivo brain spectroscopic imaging data. The proposed technique is quite general and can be used to estimate the concentration of any other metabolite of interest.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Schizophrenia is characterized by loss of brain volume, which may represent an ongoing pathophysiological process. This loss of brain volume may be explained by reduced neuropil rather than neuronal loss, suggesting abnormal synaptic plasticity and cortical microcircuitry. A possible mechanism is hypofunction of the NMDA-type of glutamate receptor, which reduces the excitation of inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, resulting in a disinhibition of glutamatergic pyramidal neurons. Disinhibition of pyramidal cells may result in excessive stimulation by glutamate, which in turn could cause neuronal damage or death through excitotoxicity. In this study, GABA/creatine ratios, and glutamate, NAA, creatine and choline concentrations in the prefrontal and parieto-occipital cortices were measured in 17 patients with schizophrenia and 23 healthy controls using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy at an ultra-high magnetic field strength of 7 T. Significantly lower GABA/Cr ratios were found in patients with schizophrenia in the prefrontal cortex as compared to healthy controls, with GABA/Cr ratios inversely correlated with cognitive functioning in the patients. No significant change in the GABA/Cr ratio was found between patients and controls in the parieto-occipital cortex, nor were levels of glutamate, NAA, creatine, and choline differed in patients and controls in the prefrontal and parieto-occipital cortices. Our findings support a mechanism involving altered GABA levels distinguished from glutamate levels in the medial prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia, particularly in high functioning patients. A (compensatory) role for GABA through altered inhibitory neurotransmission in the prefrontal cortex may be ongoing in (higher functioning) patients with schizophrenia.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Schizophrenia Research
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