Glutamate levels across deep brain structures in patients with a psychotic disorder and its relation to cognitive functioning

Tommy A. A. Broeders, Alex A. Bhogal, Lisan M. Morsinkhof, Menno M. Schoonheim, Christian H. Röder, Mirte Edens, Dennis W. J. Klomp, Jannie P. Wijnen, Christiaan H. Vinkers

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Patients with psychotic disorders often show prominent cognitive impairment. Glutamate seems to play a prominent role, but its role in deep gray matter (DGM) regions is unclear. Aims: To evaluate glutamate levels within deep gray matter structures in patients with a psychotic disorder in relation to cognitive functioning, using advanced spectroscopic acquisition, reconstruction, and post-processing techniques. Methods: A 7-Tesla magnetic resonance imaging scanner combined with a lipid suppression coil and subject-specific water suppression pulses was used to acquire high-resolution magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging data. Tissue fraction correction and registration to a standard brain were performed for group comparison in specifically delineated DGM regions. The brief assessment of cognition in schizophrenia was used to evaluate cognitive status. Results: Average glutamate levels across DGM structures (i.e. caudate, pallidum, putamen, and thalamus) in mostly medicated patients with a psychotic disorder (n = 16, age = 33, 4 females) were lower compared to healthy controls (n = 23, age = 24, 7 females; p = 0.005, d = 1.06). Stratified analyses showed lower glutamate levels in the caudate (p = 0.046, d = 0.76) and putamen p = 0.013, d = 0.94). These findings were largely explained by age differences between groups. DGM glutamate levels were positively correlated with psychomotor speed (r(30) = 0.49, p = 0.028), but not with other cognitive domains. Conclusions: We find reduced glutamate levels across DGM structures including the caudate and putamen in patients with a psychotic disorder that are linked to psychomotor speed. Despite limitations concerning age differences, these results underscore the potential role of detailed in vivo glutamate assessments to understand cognitive deficits in psychotic disorders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-497
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychopharmacology
Issue number4
Early online date4 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI)
  • cognition
  • glutamate
  • proton spectroscopy
  • psychomotor speed
  • psychotic disorder

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