International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Metabolomics of the Autistic Brain

Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Metabolomics of the Autistic Brain

Saturday, May 17, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
11:30 AM
L. Karstens , Chemistry, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
A. Sierra , Neurology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
I. Pelczer , Chemistry, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
M. Maletic-Savatic , Neurology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Background: The ability to diagnose and predict the course of autism is a pressing goal in clinical medicine. However, the specific biomarkers of the disease are unknown, and the diagnosis relies on clinical and neuropsychological criteria. It is now evident that the genetic background is not sufficient to produce a specific autistic phenotype, and that other, epigenetic factors play a significant role in development of the disease. On the cellular level, the intersection of the genetic background and the environmental, or, in broader terms, epigenetic factors is reflected by the cell biochemistry. Herein, we propose to investigate a complex biochemical fingerprint of the autistic brain which might provide crucial insights into the mechanisms that contribute to the development of autism.
Objectives: The main goal of this study is to investigate the metabolomic profiles of the brain tissue in autism, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS).
Methods: 1H-MRS spectra of the hippocampus/amygdala and cerebellum of subjects with Asperger Syndrome (AS) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD/NOS) were obtained using a 1.5T MRI scanner. Subjects were selected based on their ADOS evaluations and were not on medications.
Results: The 1H-MRS data were processed using multivariate analysis. We have observed substantial differences in the profiles of the two subject groups, as well as when compared to healthy controls. Both AS and PDD/NOS subjects clustered together and away from each other, while control group clustered in the middle. Further analysis of the metabolites that contribute to this difference is under way.
Conclusions: Our data indicate that there is a metabolic difference in the brains of AS and PDD/NOS subjects. These are the first data that provide the insight into the functional status of the autistic brain using 1H-MRS Metabolomics, which might lead to the development of diagnostic biomarkers for clinical use in autism.
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