Background: Neuroimaging and electrophysiologic studies have consistently provided evidence of impairment in anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal cortex function in people with schizophrenia. In this study, we sought to clarify the nature of this abnormality by combining proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) at 3T.
Methods: We used single-voxel MRS acquired in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and fMRI during performance of a Stroop color-naming task to investigate the neurochemistry and functional response of the anterior cingulate cortex/medial frontal cortex in 26 stable, medicated subjects with schizophrenia and 23 matched healthy control subjects.
Results: In schizophrenia subjects, we found decreased blood oxygen level-dependent signal in the medial frontal wall, with significant clusters restricted to more dorsal regions compared with healthy subjects. In addition, we observed a trend-level decrease in N-acetylaspartate/creatine (NAA/Cr) levels and a significant positive correlation between NAA/Cr level and the blood oxygen level-dependent signal in schizophrenia subjects that did not exist in healthy subjects. Furthermore, in this group of medicated subjects, we did not find evidence of decreased glutamate + glutamine(Glx)/Cr levels, but there was a significant negative correlation between Glx/Cr levels and negative symptoms.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that abnormal NAA levels, which may reflect a neuronal dysfunction related to schizophrenia, affect neuronal physiology, as evidenced by reduced blood oxygen level-dependent response.
Copyright © 2010 Society of Biological Psychiatry. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.