In vivo 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy study of amygdala-hippocampal and parietal regions in autism

Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Dec;163(12):2189-92. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.163.12.2189.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amygdala / metabolism*
  • Autistic Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / metabolism
  • Autistic Disorder / physiopathology*
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Creatine / physiology
  • Female
  • Glutamates / chemistry
  • Glutamates / metabolism
  • Glutamates / physiology
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Glutamine / physiology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Parietal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Phosphocreatine / metabolism
  • Phosphocreatine / physiology


  • Glutamates
  • Phosphocreatine
  • Glutamine
  • Creatine