Increased glutamate/GABA+ ratio in a shared autistic and schizotypal trait phenotype termed Social Disorganisation Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Autism and schizophrenia are multi-dimensional spectrum disorders that have substantial phenotypic overlap. This overlap is readily identified in the non-clinical population, and has been conceptualised as Social Disorganisation (SD). This study investigates the balance of excitatory glutamate and inhibitory γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) concentrations in a non-clinical sample with high and low trait SD, as glutamate and GABA abnormalities are reported across the autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Participants were 18 low (10 females) and 19 high (9 females) SD scorers aged 18 to 40 years who underwent 1H-MRS for glutamate and GABA+macromolecule (GABA+) concentrations in right and left hemisphere superior temporal (ST) voxels. Reduced GABA+ concentration (p = 0.03) and increased glutamate/GABA+ ratio (p = 0.003) in the right ST voxel for the high SD group was found, and there was increased GABA+ concentration in the left compared to right ST voxel (p = 0.047). Bilateral glutamate concentration was increased for the high SD group (p = 0.006); there was no hemisphere by group interaction (p = 0.772). Results suggest that a higher expression of the SD phenotype may be associated with increased glutamate/GABA+ ratio in the right ST region, which may affect speech prosody processing, and lead behavioural characteristics that are shared within the autistic and schizotypal spectra.

publication date

  • 2017