Reduction of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) in association with relapse in early-stage psychosis: a 7-Tesla MRS study

Marina Mihaljevic, Yu Ho Chang, Ashley M. Witmer, Jennifer M. Coughlin, David J. Schretlen, Peter B. Barker, Kun Yang, Akira Sawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the biological underpinning of relapse could improve the outcomes of patients with psychosis. Relapse is elicited by multiple reasons/triggers, but the consequence frequently accompanies deteriorations of brain function, leading to poor prognosis. Structural brain imaging studies have recently been pioneered to address this question, but a lack of molecular investigations is a knowledge gap. Following a criterion used for recent publications by others, we defined the experiences of relapse by hospitalization(s) due to psychotic exacerbation. We hypothesized that relapse-associated molecules might be underscored from the neurometabolites whose levels have been different between overall patients with early-stage psychosis and healthy subjects in our previous report. In the present study, we observed a significant decrease in the levels of N-acetyl aspartate in the anterior cingulate cortex and thalamus in patients who experienced relapse compared to patients who did not. Altogether, decreased N-acetyl aspartate levels may indicate relapse-associated deterioration of neuronal networks in patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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