Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Studies of Brain Energy Metabolism in Schizophrenia: Progression from Prodrome to Chronic Psychosis

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2023 Nov;25(11):659-669. doi: 10.1007/s11920-023-01457-1. Epub 2023 Oct 9.


Purpose of review: Schizophrenia (SZ) is a debilitating mental illness; existing treatments are partially effective and associated with significant side effect burden, largely due to our limited understanding of disease mechanisms and the trajectory of disease progression. Accumulating evidence suggests that metabolic changes associated with glucose metabolism, mitochondrial dysfunction, and redox imbalance play an important role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. However, the molecular mechanisms associated with these abnormalities in the brains of schizophrenia patients and the ways in which they change over time remain unclear. This paper aims to review the current literature on molecular mechanisms and in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) studies of impaired energy metabolism in patients at clinical high risk for psychosis, with first-episode SZ, and with chronic SZ. Our review covers research related to high-energy phosphate metabolism, lactate, intracellular pH, redox ratio, and the antioxidant glutathione.

Recent findings: Both first-episode and chronic SZ patients display a significant reduction in creatine kinase reaction activity and redox (NAD + /NADH) ratio in the prefrontal cortex. Chronic, but not first-episode, SZ patients also show a trend toward increased lactate levels and decreased pH value. These findings suggest a progressive shift from oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis for energy production over the course of SZ, which is associated with redox imbalance and mitochondrial dysfunction. Accumulating evidence indicates that aberrant brain energy metabolism associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and redox imbalance plays a critical role in SZ and will be a promising target for future treatments.

Keywords: Bioenergetics; Mitochondrial function; Progression of psychotic disorders; Redox imbalance; Schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactates / metabolism
  • Lactates / therapeutic use
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods
  • Psychotic Disorders* / pathology
  • Schizophrenia* / drug therapy


  • Lactates