Altered Glutamate and Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Levels in Schizophrenia: A 1 H-MRS and pCASL study

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2017 Jan;42(2):562-571. doi: 10.1038/npp.2016.172. Epub 2016 Aug 26.


The neurobiology of schizophrenia (SZ) may be altered in older versus younger adults with SZ, as less frequent episodes of symptom exacerbation and increased sensitivity to medications are observed in older age. The goal of this study was to examine the effect of age and diagnosis on glutamate and cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in adults with SZ and healthy controls. Young and older adults with SZ and healthy controls were recruited to participate in this study. Participants completed a neuropsychological battery and neuroimaging that included optimized magnetic resonance spectroscopy to measure anterior cingulate (AC) glutamate (Glu) and glutamine (Gln) and arterial spin labeling evaluation for rCBF. Regression analyses revealed significant effects of age with Glu, Gln, Gln/Glu, and AC white matter (WM) rCBF. Glu and WM rCBF decreased linearly with age while Gln and Gln/Glu increased linearly with age. Glu was lower in adults with SZ compared with healthy controls and in older adults versus younger adults but there was no interaction. Glu and WM rCBF were correlated with the UCSD Performance-Based Skills Assessment (UPSA) and processing speed, and the correlations were stronger in the SZ group. In the largest sample to date, lower Glu and elevated Gln/Glu levels were observed in adults with SZ and in older subjects. Contrary to expectation, these results do not show evidence of accelerated Glu aging in the anterior cingulate region in SZ compared with healthy controls.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Female
  • Glutamic Acid / metabolism*
  • Glutamine / metabolism
  • Gyrus Cinguli / blood supply*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Schizophrenia / physiopathology*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • White Matter / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • Glutamine
  • Glutamic Acid