N-Acetylaspartate concentration in the anterior cingulate of maltreated children and adolescents with PTSD

Am J Psychiatry. 2000 Jul;157(7):1175-7. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.157.7.1175.


Objective: Anterior cingulate dysfunction has been implicated in the pathophysiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The authors hypothesized that integrity of the anterior cingulate may be affected in childhood PTSD.

Method: Single voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (proton MRS) was used to measure the relative concentration of N-acetylaspartate and creatine, a marker of neural integrity, in the anterior cingulate of 11 children and adolescents who met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD secondary to maltreatment and 11 healthy matched comparison subjects.

Results: The ratio of N-acetylaspartate to creatine was significantly lower in the maltreated subjects with PTSD than in the comparison subjects.

Conclusions: The lower N-acetylaspartate/creatine ratio in subjects with PTSD suggests that anterior cingulate neuronal metabolism may be altered in childhood PTSD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / analysis
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Creatine / analysis
  • Gyrus Cinguli / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine