A Preliminary 31p MRS Study of Autism: Evidence for Undersynthesis and Increased Degradation of Brain Membranes – LOGIN TO VIEW

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Nancy J. Minshew, Gerald Goldstein, Stephen M. Dombrowski,
Kanagasabai Panchalingam, and Jay W. Pettegrew

In this pilot study, brain high energy phosphate and membrane phospholipid metabolism were
investigated in the dorsal prefrontal cortex of II high-functioning autistic adolescent and
young adult men (the age range is 12-36 years) and 11 age-, gender-. lQ, race- and socio-
economic status-matched normal controls using in vivo 31 P nuclear magnetic resonance
spectroscopy (MRS). The autistic group had decreased levels of phosphocreatine and esterified
ends (aATP + aADP + dinucleotides + diphosphosugars) compared to the controls. When
the metabolite levels were compared within each subject group with neuropsychologic and
language lest scores, a common pattern of correl4lions was observed across measures in the
autistic group, but not in the control group. As test performance declined in the autistic
subjects. levels of the most labile high energy phosphate compound and of membrane building
blocks decreased, and levels of membrane breakdown products increased. No Significant
correlations were present with age in either group or with IQ in the control group. suggesting
that these findings were not the consequence of age or IQ effects. This pilot study provides
tentative evidence of alterations in brain energy and phospholipid metabolism in autism that
correlate with the neuropsychologic and language deficits. The findings are consistent with
a hypermetabolic energy state and undersynthesis of brain membranes and may relate to the
neurophysiologic and neuropathologic abnormalities in autism.