Metabolite Alterations in Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Pilot Proton MR Spectroscopy Study

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
C. D. Jiménez-Espinoza, Physiology, Univesidad de La Laguna. Laboratorio de Neuroquímica y Neuroimagen, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain

Previous studies have investigated different patient populations and 1H-MRS techniques; it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions regarding the metabolic abnormalities in patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).


The purpose of this study was to asses the role of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) in the detection of changes in cerebral metabolite levels in youth autistic.


This case-control study included 10 right-handed youth (median age, 22 years ± 2.2), and 10 healthy age matched healthy controls (median age, 20.6 years ± 2.2). The diagnosis of autism was established by neurologist, psychiatrist and psychologist in every case. The Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ), designed by Baron-Cohen et al. to asses Autistic Spectrum traits in intellectually competent adults in both the general population and the Autism Spectrum community. Imaging was performed on a 3.0-T scanner utilizing a single-voxel point-resolved spectroscopy technique. The volume of interest (VOI) was located in the bilateral anterior cingulated, and bilateral posterior cingulated. Peak areas and ratios to creatine (Cr) of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), and myo-inositol (mI) were analized.


We showed lower N-acetylaspartate/creatine (NAA/Cr), N-acetylaspartate/myoinositol (NAA/mI), Choline/Creatine (Cho/Cr), and myoinositol/Creatine (mI/Cr) in the bilateral anterior cingulated in the study group comparing with healthy controls. The ratio of N-acetylaspartate/creatine (NAA/Cr), N-acetylaspartate/myoinositol (NAA/mI), and Choline/Creatine (Cho/Cr) was increased in youth autistic in the bilateral posterior cingulated, in contrast the ratio myoinositol/Creatine (mI/Cr) was decreased. 


1H MRS can provide important information regarding abnormal brain metabolism. Differences in NAA/Cr, NAA/mI, Cho/Cr, and Mi/Cr may contribute to the pathogenesis of autism.