Decreased frontal lobe ratio of N-acetyl aspartate to choline in familial schizophrenia: a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study

Neurosci Lett. 2000 Aug 4;289(2):147-51. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3940(00)01264-7.


Neuropathological and neuroimaging studies suggest neuronal dysfunction in schizophrenia. N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) is a useful marker of neuronal dysfunction that can be measured with magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). In the present study NAA, choline (Cho), phospho-creatine ((P)Cr), inositol containing compounds and glutamine/glutamate (Glx) were assessed in the left frontal lobe and basal ganglia of subjects with familial schizophrenia, family members with mixed psychiatric diagnoses, unaffected family members, and community controls. Concentrations of metabolites were analyzed and expressed as ratios. NAA/Cho, NAA/(P)Cr and Glx containing compounds showed a negative correlation with age in the frontal lobe. After covarying for age, subjects with schizophrenia had a significant reduction in the left frontal lobe NAA/Cho ratio compared with unaffected family members (P=0.018) as well as with community non-familial (P=0.037) controls. These MRS observations support the hypothesis of a disease-related neuronal deficit in the frontal lobe of schizophrenic patients, and relatively normal basal ganglia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism*
  • Basal Ganglia / metabolism
  • Choline / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protons
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*


  • Protons
  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Choline