Higher levels of glutamate in the associative-striatum of subjects with prodromal symptoms of schizophrenia and patients with first-episode psychosis

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011 Aug;36(9):1781-91. doi: 10.1038/npp.2011.65. Epub 2011 Apr 20.


The glutamatergic and dopaminergic systems are thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Their interaction has been widely documented and may have a role in the neurobiological basis of the disease. The aim of this study was to compare, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS), glutamate levels in the precommissural dorsal-caudate (a dopamine-rich region) and the cerebellar cortex (negligible for dopamine) in the following: (1) 18 antipsychotic-naïve subjects with prodromal symptoms and considered to be at ultra high-risk for schizophrenia (UHR), (2) 18 antipsychotic-naïve first- episode psychosis patients (FEP), and (3) 40 age- and sex- matched healthy controls. All subjects underwent a (1)H-MRS study using a 3Tesla scanner. Glutamate levels were quantified and corrected for the proportion of cerebrospinal fluid and percentage of gray matter in the voxel. The UHR and FEP groups showed higher levels of glutamate than controls, without differences between UHR and FEP. In the cerebellum, no differences were seen between the three groups. The higher glutamate level in the precommissural dorsal-caudate and not in the cerebellum of UHR and FEP suggests that a high glutamate level (a) precedes the onset of schizophrenia, and (b) is present in a dopamine-rich region previously implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Caudate Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Caudate Nucleus / pathology
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / metabolism*
  • Psychotic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology
  • Up-Regulation / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • Glutamic Acid