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Glutamate levels of the right and left anterior cingulate cortex in autistics adults.

BACKGROUND: The neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is still unknown. Alteration in glutamate metabolism might translate into an imbalance of the excitation/inhibition equilibrium of cortical networks that in turn are related to autistic symptoms, but previous studies using voxel located in bilateral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) failed to show abnormalities in total glutamate level. Due to the functional differences in the right and left ACC, we sought to determine whether a difference between right and left ACC glutamate levels could be found when comparing ASD patients and control subjects.

METHODS: Using single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1 H-MRS), we analyzed the glutamate + glutamine (Glx) concentrations in the left and right ACC of 19 ASD patients with normal IQs and 25 matched control subjects.

RESULTS: No overall group differences in Glx were shown, in the left ACC (p = 0.24) or in the right ACC (p = 0.11).

CONCLUSIONS: No significant alterations in Glx levels were detected in the left and right ACC in high-functioning autistic adults. In the excitatory/inhibitory imbalance framework, our data reinforce the critical need to analyze the GABAergic pathway, for better understanding of basic neuropathology in autism.

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