To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
Glutamatergic dysfunction has been implicated in sensory integration deficits in schizophrenia, yet how glutamatergic function contributes to behavioural impairments and neural activities of sensory integration remains unknown.
Fifty schizophrenia patients and 43 healthy controls completed behavioural assessments for sensory integration and underwent magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) for measuring the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) glutamate levels. The correlation between glutamate levels and behavioural sensory integration deficits was examined in each group. A subsample of 20 pairs of patients and controls further completed an audiovisual sensory integration functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) task. Blood Oxygenation Level Dependent (BOLD) activation and task-dependent functional connectivity (FC) were assessed based on fMRI data. Full factorial analyses were performed to examine the Group-by-Glutamate Level interaction effects on fMRI measurements (group differences in correlation between glutamate levels and fMRI measurements) and the correlation between glutamate levels and fMRI measurements within each group.
We found that schizophrenia patients exhibited impaired sensory integration which was positively correlated with ACC glutamate levels. Multimodal analyses showed significantly Group-by-Glutamate Level interaction effects on BOLD activation as well as task-dependent FC in a ‘cortico-subcortical-cortical’ network (including medial frontal gyrus, precuneus, ACC, middle cingulate gyrus, thalamus and caudate) with positive correlations in patients and negative in controls.
Our findings indicate that ACC glutamate influences neural activities in a large-scale network during sensory integration, but the effects have opposite directionality between schizophrenia patients and healthy people. This implicates the crucial role of glutamatergic system in sensory integration processing in schizophrenia.
Treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) and non-TRS may be associated with different dopaminergic and glutamatergic regulations. The concept of dysregulated glutamatergic concentrations in specific brain regions remains controversial. Herein, we aimed to assess (i) the distribution of the glutamatergic concentration in the brain, (ii) the association between working memory (WM) differences in TRS and non-TRS patients, and (iii) whether an alteration in the glutamate (Glu) level is associated with WM.
The participants included 38 TRS patients, 35 non-TRS patients, and 19 healthy controls (HCs), all of whom underwent 1.5-Tesla proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). The ratios of glutamatergic neurometabolites to N-acetylaspartate + N-acetyl aspartylglutamate (NAAx) were calculated. Cognitive function was assessed using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales, 4th Edition, which included the working memory index (WMI).
The TRS patients had a higher glutamate + glutamine (Glx)/NAAx ratio compared to the non-TRS patients and HCs in the ACC, but this was not significantly different in the MPFC. WM was negatively correlated with Glx/NAAx in the ACC among the non-TRS patients, but not in the TRS patients or HCs.
Our findings were consistent with most studies indicating that the glutamatergic concentration in the ACC plays important roles in the classification of TRS and cognition. Our results may provide potential evidence for predictors and treatment response biomarkers in TRS patients. Further research is needed to probe the value using the relationship between Glu and WM as a potential prognostic predictor of schizophrenia.
Studies examining gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) or glutamate in ultra-high risk for psychosis (UHR) have shown conflicting results, and a number of multimodal studies examining associations between metabolite and structural characteristics is very limited.
We aimed to investigate potential associations between GABA and glutamate levels and cortical thickness in the frontal lobe in UHR individuals and healthy controls (HC).
20 male UHR individuals and 19 healthy controls (HC) underwent structural MRI and MR spectroscopy at 3T Philips scanner. T1-weighted images were processed via FreeSurfer 6.0 to quantify cortical thickness for selected frontal regions labeled according to Desikan atlas. MEGA-PRESS acquisitions were analyzed with jMRUi (ver. 5.1 Alpha), levels of GABA and glutamate were calculated as ratios to creatine + phosphocreatine.
The study revealed: 1) GABA/Cr ratios reduction in the left frontal lobe (p=0.001) which was not attributable to antipsychotic medication; 2) cortical thickness reductions in the left pars orbitalis (p=0.005) (the anterior part of the inferior frontal gyrus) in the UHR individuals compared to HC. No significant correlations between GABA/Cr ratios and cortical thickness were identified in both groups.
The findings indicate that the UHR state is associated with altered GABA levels and cortical thickness reductions in the prefrontal cortex. The results also show that GABA levels are not directly related to cortical abnormalities, suggesting that altered metabolite levels may be associated with a complex system of structural and functional impairments, rather than directly correlating with structural changes in separate cortical regions. The work was supported by RFBR grant 19-29-10040.
Nut-based products may aid low-glycaemic dietary strategies that are important for diabetes prevention in populations at increased risk of dysglycaemia, such as Asian Chinese. This randomised cross-over trial assessed the postprandial glycaemic response (0–120 min) of a higher-protein nut-based (HP-NB) snack formulation, in bar format (1009 kJ, Nutrient Profiling Score, NPS, −2), when compared with an iso-energetic higher-carbohydrate (CHO) cereal-based bar (HC-CB, 985 kJ, NPS +3). It also assessed the ability to suppress glucose response to a typical CHO-rich food (white bread, WB), when co-ingested. Ten overweight prediabetic Chinese adults (mean, sd: age 47⋅9, 15⋅7 years; BMI 25⋅5, 1⋅6 kg/m2), with total body fat plus ectopic pancreas and liver fat quantified using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy, received the five meal treatments in random order: HP-NB, HC-CB, HP-NB + WB (50 g available CHO), HC-CB + WB and WB only. Compared with HC-CB, HP-NB induced a significantly lower 30–120 min glucose response (P < 0⋅05), with an approximately 10-fold lower incremental area under the glucose curve (iAUC0–120; P < 0⋅001). HP-NB also attenuated glucose response by approximately 25 % when co-ingested with WB (P < 0⋅05). Half of the cohort had elevated pancreas and/or liver fat, with 13–21 % greater suppression of iAUC0–120 glucose in the low v. high organ fat subgroups across all five treatments. A nut-based snack product may be a healthier alternative to an energy equivalent cereal-based product with evidence of both a lower postprandial glycaemic response and modulation of CHO-induced hyperglycaemia even in high-risk, overweight, pre-diabetic adults.
We previously reported that bipolar disorder (BD) patients with clinically significant weight gain (CSWG; ⩾7% of baseline weight) in the 12 months after their first manic episode experienced greater limbic brain volume loss than patients without CSWG. It is unknown whether CSWG is also a risk factor for progressive neurochemical abnormalities.
We investigated whether 12-month CSWG predicted greater 12-month decreases in hippocampal N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and greater increases in glutamate + glutamine (Glx) following a first manic episode. In BD patients (n = 58) and healthy comparator subjects (HS; n = 34), we measured baseline and 12-month hippocampal NAA and Glx using bilateral 3-Tesla single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. We used general linear models for repeated measures to investigate whether CSWG predicted neurochemical changes.
Thirty-three percent of patients and 18% of HS experienced CSWG. After correcting for multiple comparisons, CSWG in patients predicted a greater decrease in left hippocampal NAA (effect size = −0.52, p = 0.005). CSWG also predicted a greater decrease in left hippocampal NAA in HS with a similar effect size (−0.53). A model including patients and HS found an effect of CSWG on Δleft NAA (p = 0.007), but no diagnosis effect and no diagnosis × CSWG interaction, confirming that CSWG had similar effects in patients and HS.
CSWG is a risk factor for decreasing hippocampal NAA in BD patients and HS. These results suggest that the well-known finding of reduced NAA in BD may result from higher body mass index in patients rather than BD diagnosis.
Cannabis use has been associated with psychosis through exposure to delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), its key psychoactive ingredient. Although preclinical and human evidence suggests that Δ9-THC acutely modulates glial function and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activity, whether differential sensitivity to the acute psychotomimetic effects of Δ9-THC is associated with differential effects of Δ9-THC on glial function and HPA-axis response has never been tested.
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover study investigated whether sensitivity to the psychotomimetic effects of Δ9-THC moderates the acute effects of a single Δ9-THC dose (1.19 mg/2 ml) on myo-inositol levels, a surrogate marker of glia, in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC), and circadian cortisol levels, the key neuroendocrine marker of the HPA-axis, in a set of 16 healthy participants (seven males) with modest previous cannabis exposure.
The Δ9-THC-induced change in ACC myo-inositol levels differed significantly between those sensitive to (Δ9-THC minus placebo; M = −0.251, s.d. = 1.242) and those not sensitive (M = 1.615, s.d. = 1.753) to the psychotomimetic effects of the drug (t(14) = 2.459, p = 0.028). Further, the Δ9-THC-induced change in cortisol levels over the study period (baseline minus 2.5 h post-drug injection) differed significantly between those sensitive to (Δ9-THC minus placebo; M = −275.4, s.d. = 207.519) and those not sensitive (M = 74.2, s.d. = 209.281) to the psychotomimetic effects of the drug (t(13) = 3.068, p = 0.009). Specifically, Δ9-THC exposure lowered ACC myo-inositol levels and disrupted the physiological diurnal cortisol decrease only in those subjects developing transient psychosis-like symptoms.
The interindividual differences in transient psychosis-like effects of Δ9-THC are the result of its differential impact on glial function and stress response.
Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which is a technique for measuring the degree and direction of movement of water molecules in tissue, has been widely used to noninvasively assess white matter (WM) or gray matter (GM) microstructures in vivo. Mean diffusivity (MD), which is the average diffusion across all directions, has been considered as a marker of WM tract degeneration or extracellular space enlargement in GM. Recent lines of evidence suggest that cortical MD can better identify early-stage Alzheimer’s disease than structural morphometric parameters in magnetic resonance imaging. However, knowledge of the relationships between cortical MD and other biological factors in the same cortical region, e.g. metabolites, is still limited.
Thirty-three healthy elderly individuals [aged 50–77 years (mean, 63.8±7.4 years); 11 males and 22 females] were enrolled. We estimated the associations between cortical MD and neurotransmitter levels. Specifically, we measured levels of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate + glutamine (Glx), which are inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmitters, respectively, in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) using MEGA-PRESS magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and we measured regional cortical MD using DTI.
Cortical MD was significantly negatively associated with Glx levels in both mPFC and PCC. No significant association was observed between cortical MD and GABA levels in either GM region.
Our findings suggest that degeneration of microstructural organization in GM, as determined on the basis of cortical MD measured by DTI, is accompanied by the decline of Glx metabolism within the same GM region.
Frascati international research criteria for HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) are controversial; some investigators have argued that Frascati criteria are too liberal, resulting in a high false positive rate. Meyer et al. recommended more conservative revisions to HAND criteria, including exploring other commonly used methodologies for neurocognitive impairment (NCI) in HIV including the global deficit score (GDS). This study compares NCI classifications by Frascati, Meyer, and GDS methods, in relation to neuroimaging markers of brain integrity in HIV.
Two hundred forty-one people living with HIV (PLWH) without current substance use disorder or severe (confounding) comorbid conditions underwent comprehensive neurocognitive testing and brain structural magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Participants were classified using Frascati criteria versus Meyer criteria: concordant unimpaired [Frascati(Un)/Meyer(Un)], concordant impaired [Frascati(Imp)/Meyer(Imp)], or discordant [Frascati(Imp)/Meyer(Un)] which were impaired via Frascati criteria but unimpaired via Meyer criteria. To investigate the GDS versus Meyer criteria, the same groupings were utilized using GDS criteria instead of Frascati criteria.
When examining Frascati versus Meyer criteria, discordant Frascati(Imp)/Meyer(Un) individuals had less cortical gray matter, greater sulcal cerebrospinal fluid volume, and greater evidence of neuroinflammation (i.e., choline) than concordant Frascati(Un)/Meyer(Un) individuals. GDS versus Meyer comparisons indicated that discordant GDS(Imp)/Meyer(Un) individuals had less cortical gray matter and lower levels of energy metabolism (i.e., creatine) than concordant GDS(Un)/Meyer(Un) individuals. In both sets of analyses, the discordant group did not differ from the concordant impaired group on any neuroimaging measure.
The Meyer criteria failed to capture a substantial portion of PLWH with brain abnormalities. These findings support continued use of Frascati or GDS criteria to detect HIV-associated CNS dysfunction.
Poor response to dopaminergic antipsychotics constitutes a major challenge in the treatment of psychotic disorders and markers for non-response during first-episode are warranted. Previous studies have found increased levels of glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in non-responding first-episode patients compared to responders, but it is unknown if non-responders can be identified using reference levels from healthy controls (HCs).
Thirty-nine antipsychotic-naïve patients with first-episode psychosis and 36 matched HCs underwent repeated assessments with the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale and 3T magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Glutamate scaled to total creatine (/Cr) was measured in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and left thalamus, and levels of GABA/Cr were measured in ACC. After 6 weeks, we re-examined 32 patients on aripiprazole monotherapy and 35 HCs, and after 26 weeks we re-examined 30 patients on naturalistic antipsychotic treatment and 32 HCs. The Andreasen criteria defined non-response.
Before treatment, thalamic glutamate/Cr was higher in the whole group of patients but levels normalized after treatment. ACC levels of glutamate/Cr and GABA/Cr were lower at all assessments and unaffected by treatment. When compared with HCs, non-responders at week 6 (19 patients) and week 26 (16 patients) had higher baseline glutamate/Cr in the thalamus. Moreover, non-responders at 26 weeks had lower baseline GABA/Cr in ACC. Baseline levels in responders and HCs did not differ.
Glutamatergic and GABAergic abnormalities in antipsychotic-naïve patients appear driven by non-responders to antipsychotic treatment. If replicated, normative reference levels for glutamate and GABA may aid estimation of clinical prognosis in first-episode psychosis patients.
This literature review provides an overview of the research using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in pediatric migraine and compares findings with the adult migraine literature. A literature search using PubMed was conducted using all relevant sources up to February 2019. Using MRI methods to categorize and explain pediatric migraine in comparison with adult migraine is important, in order to recognize and appreciate the differences between the two entities, both clinically and physiologically. We aim to demonstrate the differences and similarities between pediatric and adult migraine using data from white matter and gray matter structural studies, cerebral perfusion, metabolites, and functional MRI (fMRI) studies, including task-based and resting-state blood oxygen level-dependent studies. By doing this we identify areas that need further research, as well as possible areas where intervention could alter outcomes.
Prior studies suggest that a dysregulation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is involved in the pathophysiology of major depression. We aimed to elucidate changes in cortical GABA content in relation to depression and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
In total, 11 patients with major depression or depressive episode of bipolar disorder (mean pre-ECT Ham-17 of 26) and 11 healthy subjects were recruited. GABA was quantified using short-TE MRS in prefrontal and occipital cortex. Other neurometabolites such as glutathione (GSH), N-acetylaspartate (NAA) and glutamate (Glu) were secondary outcome measures.
No significant differences in GABA/Cr levels were observed between patients at baseline and healthy subjects in prefrontal cortex, t(20)=0.089, p=0.93 or occipital cortex t(21)=0.37, p=0.72. All patients improved on Ham-17 (mean post-ECT Ham-17 of 9). No significant difference was found in GABA, Glu, glutamine, choline or GSH between pre- and post-ECT values. However, we observed a significant decrease in NAA levels following ECT t(22)=3.89, p=0.0038, and a significant correlation between the NAA decline and the number of ECT sessions p=0.035.
Our study does not support prior studies arguing for GABA as a key factor in the treatment effect of ECT on major depression. The reduction in NAA levels following ECT could be due to neuronal loss or a transient dysfunction in prefrontal cortex. As no long-term follow-up scan was performed, it is unknown whether NAA levels will normalise over time.
The microbiota-gut-brain axis and membrane dysfunction in the brain has attracted increasing attention in the field of psychiatric research. However, the possible interactive role of gut microbiota and brain function in the prodromal stage of schizophrenia has not been studied yet.
To explore this, we collected fecal samples and performed Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS) scans in 81 high risk (HR) subjects, 19 ultra-high risk (UHR) subjects and 69 health controls (HC). Then we analyzed the differences in gut microbiota and choline concentrations in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC).
Presences of the orders Clostridiales, Lactobacillales and Bacteroidales were observed at increase levels in fecal samples of UHR subjects compared to the other two groups. The composition changes of gut microbiota indicate the increased production of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs), which could activate microglia and then disrupt membrane metabolism. Furthermore, this was confirmed by an increase of choline levels, a brain imaging marker of membrane dysfunction, which is also significantly elevated in UHR subjects compared to the HR and HC groups.
Both gut microbiome and imaging studies of UHR subjects suggest the membrane dysfunction in the brain and hence might support the membrane hypothesis of schizophrenia.
Effective pharmaceutical treatments for age-related cognitive decline have proved elusive. There is, however, compelling evidence that nutritional status and supplementation could play crucial roles in modifying the expression of cognitive change through the lifespan. Subjective memory impairment and mild cognitive impairment can be harbingers of dementia but this is by no means inevitable. Neurocognitive change is influenced by a variety of processes, many of which are involved in other aspects of systemic health, including cardiovascular function. Importantly, many of these processes are governed by mechanisms which may be modified by specific classes of bioactive nutrients. There is increasing, converging evidence from controlled trials that nutritional interventions can improve mood and cognitive function in both clinical and healthy populations. Specific examples include selected botanical extracts such as the flavonoids. Some nutritional supplements (e.g. broad-spectrum micronutrient supplementation) appear to support improved cognitive function, possibly through redressing insufficient nutrient status (i.e. suboptimal but above the threshold for frank deficiency). Recent mechanistic research has unveiled physiologically plausible, modifiable, cognition-relevant targets for nutrition and nutraceuticals. These include processes involved in both systemic and central vascular function, inflammation, metabolism, central activation, improved neural efficiency and angiogenesis. The advent and development of human neuroimaging methodology have greatly aided our understanding of the core central mechanisms of cognitive change. Different imaging modalities can provide insights into modifiable central mechanisms which may be targeted by bioactive nutrients. The latter may contribute to slowing age-related decline through supporting neurocognitive scaffolding mechanisms.
Apathy is a condition characterized by a lack of motivation that manifests in emotional, behavioral, and cognitive domains. Although previous studies have indicated that apathy is associated with frontal lesions, few studies have focused on the different subdomains of apathy, and no in vivo human biochemical data have been obtained to examine the neurochemical changes related to apathy in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Thus, we investigated the frontal neurochemical alterations related to apathy among patients with AD using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS).
Apathy was assessed through the Apathy Evaluation Scale (AES). 1H MRS was performed to measure neurochemical metabolite levels in the anterior cingulate region and right orbitofrontal region. Associations between neurochemical metabolites and the total score and subscores of each domain of the AES were analyzed.
Altogether, 36 patients completed the study. Patients with lower N-acetylaspartate/creatine ratios (NAA/Cr) in the anterior cingulate region demonstrated higher total apathy scores (β = −0.56, p = 0.003) with adjustments for age, gender, educational level, dementia severity, and depression severity. In a further analysis, a lower NAA/Cr in the anterior cingulate region was associated with all subdomains of apathy, including cognition (β = −0.43, p = 0.028), behavior (β = −0.55, p = 0.002), and emotion (β = −0.50, p = 0.005). No statistically significant associations were discovered in the right orbitofrontal region.
Our results suggest that apathy, in each of its cognitive, behavioral, or emotional subdomains is associated with brain neurochemical alterations in the anterior cingulate region. Abnormal neuronal integrity over the anterior cingulate cortex may exhibit a central role in causing all aspects of apathy in patients with AD.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common psychiatric illness characterised by selective morpho-functional brain alterations. The breath of neuroimaging studies investigating the neural basis of GAD is extensive; however, its pathophysiology is still largely unknown. Specifically for proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (¹H MRS) investigations, which have the aim of identifying differences in metabolite levels between conditions in key brain areas, often showed contrasting results. Indeed, there are selected ¹H MRS studies reporting deficits of key metabolites in GAD patients; however, collectively the literature remains mixed with respect to consistency of major findings. In this review, we evaluate published ¹H MRS studies on GAD with the final aim of providing a comprehensive overview of the extent of neurometabolic dysfunctions associated with GAD. Interestingly, the majority of the studies reviewed showed altered metabolite levels in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and hippocampus suggesting regional specificity. These results also provide evidence of the utility of ¹H MRS not only for elucidating the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric diseases, but also for the identification of more beneficial and targeted pharmacological interventions. Additionally, future studies are warranted to overcome methodological differences observed across the studies.
Currently it is estimated that about 1 billion people globally have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which liver fat exceeds 5 % of liver weight in the absence of significant alcohol intake. Due to the central role of the liver in metabolism, the prevalence of NAFLD is increasing in parallel with the prevalence of obesity, insulin resistance and other risk factors of metabolic diseases. However, the contribution of liver fat to the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus and CVD, relative to other ectopic fat depots and to other risk markers, is unclear. Various studies have suggested that the accumulation of liver fat can be reduced or prevented via dietary changes. However, the amount of liver fat reduction that would be physiologically relevant, and the timeframes and dose–effect relationships for achieving this through different diet-based approaches, are unclear. Also, it is still uncertain whether the changes in liver fat per se or the associated metabolic changes are relevant. Furthermore, the methods available to measure liver fat, or even individual fatty acids, differ in sensitivity and reliability. The present report summarises key messages of presentations from different experts and related discussions from a workshop intended to capture current views and research gaps relating to the points above.
Relevant biochemicals of the brain can be quantified in vivo, non-invasively, using proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (¹H MRS). This includes metabolites associated with neural general functioning, energetics, membrane phospholipid metabolism and neurotransmission. Moreover, there is substantial evidence of implication of the frontal and prefrontal areas in the pathogenesis of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. In particular, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) plays an important role in cognitive control of emotional and non-emotional processes. Thus the study of its extent of biochemistry dysfunction in the early stages of psychosis is of particular interest in gaining a greater understanding of its aetiology. In this review, we selected ¹H MRS studies focused on the ACC of first-episode psychosis (FEP). Four studies reported increased glutamatergic levels in FEP, while other four showed preserved concentrations. Moreover, findings on FEP do not fully mirror those in chronic patients. Due to conflicting findings, larger longitudinal ¹H MRS studies are expected to further explore glutamatergic neurotransmission in ACC of FEP in order to have a better understanding of the glutamatergic mechanisms underlying psychosis, possibly using ultra high field MR scanners.
Glutamatergic dysfunction in the brain has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Previous studies suggested that l-theanine affects the glutamatergic neurotransmission and ameliorates symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. The aims of the present study were twofold: to examine the possible effects of l-theanine on symptoms in chronic schizophrenia patients and to evaluate the changes in chemical mediators, including glutamate + glutamine (Glx), in the brain by using 1H magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
The subjects were 17 patients with schizophrenia and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. l-Theanine (250 mg/day) was added to the patients’ ongoing antipsychotic treatment for 8 weeks. The outcome measures were the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores and MRS results.
There were significant improvements in the PANSS positive scale and sleep quality after the l-theanine treatment. As for MRS, we found no significant differences in Glx levels before and after the 8 week l-theanine treatment. However, significant correlations were observed between baseline density of Glx and change in Glx density by l-theanine.
Our results suggest that l-theanine is effective in ameliorating positive symptoms and sleep quality in schizophrenia. The MRS findings suggest that l-theanine stabilises the glutamatergic concentration in the brain, which is a possible mechanism underlying the therapeutic effect.
Prefrontal and/or temporo-limbic abnormalities associated with antisocial personality disorder (APD), high psychopathy scores and violent behaviours can readily be evaluated by neuroimaging methods.
In this study, we compared the brain metabolites in adult male military conscripts with APD, high psychopathy scores and serious violent crimes (n = 15) with age- and educational-level-matched healthy controls (n = 15) by means of magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
All cases were diagnosed by means of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual-IV APD module of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM III-R Axis II Disorders (SCID-II) semistructured questionnaire in Turkish. The psychopathy scores were evaluated by means of the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised translated into Turkish (PCL-R). PCL-R is a 20-item, reliable and valid instrument for assessment of psychopathy, both in categorical and dimensional natures. All patients had a total score of 29 (of possible 40) or higher from PCL-R, indicating a high degree of psychopathy.
Our results showed no significant differences in ratio of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), creatine (Cr) and choline-related compounds in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and amygdala–hippocampus regions of cases compared with controls. ACC NAA/Cr was significantly negatively correlated with both the PCL-R total score and the PCL-R factor I score (interpersonal/affective problems) among the cases.
As ACC plays an important role in decision-making and emotional information processing, we postulate that the lower NAA/Cr ratio, suggesting impaired neural integrity, may increase the severity of interpersonal/affective problems of the psychopathy factor in male subjects exhibiting APD, high psychopathy overall scores and violent crimes.