Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy during initial treatment with antipsychotic medication in schizophrenia.
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Reduced brain N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA) has been repeatedly found in chronic schizophrenia and suggests neuronal loss or dysfunction. However, the potential confounding effect of antipsychotic drugs on NAA has not been resolved. We studied 32 minimally treated schizophrenia patients and 21 healthy subjects with single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) of the frontal and occipital lobes, caudate nucleus, and cerebellum. Concentrations of NAA, Choline, and Cre were determined and corrected for the proportion of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the voxel. Patients were treated in a randomized-controlled double-blind manner with either haloperidol or quetiapine. (1)H-MRS was repeated every 6 months for up to 2 years. There was a group main effect for baseline NAA with lower global NAA in schizophrenia subjects before treatment compared to healthy controls. Global NAA was directly related to measures of global cognitive performance in the whole subject sample. Following treatment with haloperidol or quetiapine, there were no changes in NAA in any of the regions studied. Early in the illness, schizophrenia patients already demonstrate subtle reductions in NAA. Treatment with typical or atypical antipsychotic medications for several months does not result in NAA changes.