Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of the substantia nigra in schizophrenia

Academic Article


  • Background: Converging evidence in schizophrenia points to disruption of the dopamine and glutamate neurotransmitter systems in the pathophysiology of the disorder. Dopamine is produced in the substantia nigra, but few neuroimaging studies have specifically targeted this structure. In fact, no studies of the substantia nigra in schizophrenia have used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). We sought to demonstrate the feasibility of acquiring single-voxel MRS measurements at 3. T from the substantia nigra and to determine which metabolites could be reliably quantified in schizophrenia patients and healthy controls. Methods: We used a turbo spin echo sequence with magnetization transfer contrast to visualize the substantia nigra and single-voxel proton MRS to quantify levels of N-acetylaspartate, glutamate and glutamine (Glx), and choline in the left substantia nigra of 35 people with schizophrenia and 22 healthy controls. Results: We obtained spectra from the substantia nigra and quantified neurometabolites in both groups. We found no differences in levels of N-acetylaspartate/creatine, Glx/creatine, or choline/creatine between the groups. We found a significant correlation between Glx/creatine and overall cognitive performance, measured with the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status (RBANS), in controls but not patients, a difference that was statistically significant. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates the feasibility of obtaining single-voxel MRS data from the substantia nigra in schizophrenia. Such measurements may prove useful in understanding the biochemistry underlying cellular function in a region implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 23154114
  • Author List

  • Reid MA; Kraguljac NV; Avsar KB; White DM; den Hollander JA; Lahti AC
  • Start Page

  • 348
  • End Page

  • 354
  • Volume

  • 147
  • Issue

  • 2-3