Objective: The neural basis for autistic spectrum disorders is unclear, but abnormalities in the development of limbic areas and of glutamate have been suggested. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) can be used to measure the concentration of brain metabolites. However, the concentration of glutamate/glutamine in brain regions implicated in autistic spectrum disorders has not yet been examined in vivo.
Method: The authors used (1)H-MRS to investigate the neuronal integrity of the amygdala-hippocampal complex and a parietal control region in adults with autistic spectrum disorders and healthy subjects.
Results: People with autistic spectrum disorders had a significantly higher concentration of glutamate/glutamine and creatine/phosphocreatine in the amygdala-hippocampal region but not in the parietal region.
Conclusions: Abnormalities in glutamate/glutamine may partially underpin the pathophysiology of autistic spectrum disorders, and the authors confirm earlier reports that limbic areas are metabolically aberrant in these disorders.