The relationship between synaptic density marker SV2A, glutamate and N-acetyl aspartate levels in healthy volunteers and schizophrenia: a multimodal PET and magnetic resonance spectroscopy brain imaging study

Ellis Chika Onwordi*, Thomas Whitehurst, Ayla Mansur, Ben Statton, Alaine Berry, Marina Quinlan, Declan P. O’Regan, Maria Rogdaki, Tiago Reis Marques, Eugenii A. Rabiner, Roger N. Gunn, Anthony C. Vernon, Sridhar Natesan, Oliver D. Howes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Glutamatergic excitotoxicity is hypothesised to underlie synaptic loss in schizophrenia pathogenesis, but it is unknown whether synaptic markers are related to glutamatergic function in vivo. Additionally, it has been proposed that N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) levels reflect neuronal integrity. Here, we investigated whether synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 A (SV2A) levels are related to glutamatergic markers and NAA in healthy volunteers (HV) and schizophrenia patients (SCZ). Forty volunteers (SCZ n = 18, HV n = 22) underwent [11C]UCB-J positron emission tomography and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) imaging in the left hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to index [11C]UCB-J distribution volume ratio (DVR), and creatine-scaled glutamate (Glu/Cr), glutamate and glutamine (Glx/Cr) and NAA (NAA/Cr). In healthy volunteers, but not patients, [11C]UCB-J DVR was significantly positively correlated with Glu/Cr, in both the hippocampus and ACC. Furthermore, in healthy volunteers, but not patients, [11C]UCB-J DVR was significantly positively correlated with Glx/Cr, in both the hippocampus and ACC. There were no significant relationships between [11C]UCB-J DVR and NAA/Cr in the hippocampus or ACC in healthy volunteers or patients. Therefore, an appreciable proportion of the brain 1H-MRS glutamatergic signal is related to synaptic density in healthy volunteers. This relationship is not seen in schizophrenia, which, taken with lower synaptic marker levels, is consistent with lower levels of glutamatergic terminals and/or a lower proportion of glutamatergic relative to GABAergic terminals in the ACC in schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number393
JournalTranslational psychiatry
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

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