Effects of Antipsychotic Administration on Brain Glutamate in Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review of Longitudinal (1)H-MRS Studies

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Schizophrenia is associated with brain glutamate dysfunction, but it is currently unclear whether antipsychotic administration can reduce the extent of glutamatergic abnormality. We conducted a systematic review of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) studies examining the effects of antipsychotic treatment on brain glutamate levels in schizophrenia. The Medline database was searched to identify relevant articles published until December 2016. Inclusion required that studies examined longitudinal changes in brain glutamate metabolites in patients with schizophrenia before and after initiation of first antipsychotic treatment or a switch in antipsychotic treatment. The searches identified eight eligible articles, with baseline and follow-up measures in a total of 168 patients. The majority of articles reported a numerical reduction in brain glutamate metabolites with antipsychotic treatment, and the estimated overall mean reduction of 6.5% in Glx (the combined signal from glutamate and glutamine) across brain regions. Significant reductions in glutamate metabolites in at least one brain region were reported in four of the eight studies, and none of the studies reported a significant glutamatergic increase after antipsychotic administration. Relationships between the degree of change in glutamate and the degree of improvement in symptoms have been inconsistent but may provide limited evidence that antipsychotic response may be associated with lower glutamate levels before treatment and a greater extent of glutamatergic reduction during treatment. Further longitudinal, prospective studies of glutamate and antipsychotic response are required to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2017


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