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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 3915703, 9 pages
Research Article

Reduced γ-Aminobutyric Acid and Glutamate+Glutamine Levels in Drug-Naïve Patients with First-Episode Schizophrenia but Not in Those at Ultrahigh Risk

1Shanghai Key Laboratory of Psychotic Disorders, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China
2Shanghai Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance and Department of Physics, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
3Bio-X Institutes, Key Laboratory for the Genetics of Developmental and Neuropsychiatric Disorders (Ministry of Education), Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai 200030, China
4MR Collaboration, Siemens Healthcare Ltd., Shanghai, China
5Department of Psychiatry, Shanghai Tongji Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200065, China
6Department of Radiology, Shanghai Mental Health Center, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China

Received 16 June 2016; Revised 14 September 2016; Accepted 13 October 2016

Academic Editor: Lin Xu

Copyright © 2016 Junjie Wang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Altered γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate (Glu) levels, and an imbalance between GABAergic and glutamatergic neurotransmissions have been involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. However, it remains unclear how these abnormalities impact the onset and course of psychosis. In the present study, 21 drug-naïve subjects at ultrahigh risk for psychosis (UHR), 16 drug-naïve patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FES), and 23 healthy controls (HC) were enrolled. In vivo GABA and glutamate+glutamine (Glx) levels in the medial prefrontal cortex were measured using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Medial prefrontal GABA and Glx levels in FES patients were significantly lower than those in HC and UHR, respectively. GABA and Glx levels in UHR were comparable with those in HC. In each group, there was a positive correlation between GABA and Glx levels. Reduced medial prefrontal GABA and Glx levels thus may play an important role in the early stages of schizophrenia.