Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy as a Probe into the Pathophysiology of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD): A Review

Joshua M. Baruth, Christopher A. Wall, Marc C. Patterson, John D. Port

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations

Abstract

Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) is a safe, noninvasive way of quantifying in vivo biochemical and metabolite concentration levels in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Findings to date suggest ASD is associated with widespread reduction in N-acetylaspartate (NAA), creatine plus phosphocreatine (Cr), choline-containing compounds (Cho), myo-inositol (mI), and glutamate plus glutamine plus gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (Glx); however, variable findings, and even substantial increases, are not uncommon depending on the study and/or region-of-interest. Widespread reduction of NAA, Cr, Cho, mI, and Glx in ASD likely reflects impaired neuronal function and/or metabolism related to abnormal neurodevelopmental processes. Future studies should attempt to relate 1H-MRS findings to histological findings and control for variability in subject age and functioning level; this would assist in evaluating the relationship between 1H-MRS metabolic levels and neuronal and glial cell densities, as well as neurodevelopmental process associated with ASD. Furthermore, more longitudinal 1H-MRS studies are needed in both control and ASD subjects to attempt to standardize metabolite levels across different developmental periods in well-defined endophenotypes. This will provide for a standard rubric for which metabolic aberrations (as well as treatment responses) can be measured. With higher magnetic field strengths and spectral-editing techniques capable of quantifying less-concentrated metabolites, 1H-MRS will continue to be an important tool in ASD research. Autism Res 2013, 6: 119-133.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-133
Number of pages15
JournalAutism Research
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013

Keywords

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Glutamate
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • myo-inositol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Genetics(clinical)

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