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N-Acetyl and Glutamatergic Neurometabolites in Perisylvian Brain Regions of Methamphetamine Users.


Background:Methamphetamine induces neuronal N-acetyl-aspartate synthesis in preclinical studies. In a preliminary human proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging investigation, we also observed that N-acetyl-aspartate+N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate in right inferior frontal cortex correlated with years of heavy methamphetamine abuse. In the same brain region, glutamate+glutamine is lower in methamphetamine users than in controls and is negatively correlated with depression. N-acetyl and glutamatergic neurochemistries therefore merit further investigation in methamphetamine abuse and the associated mood symptoms. Methods:Magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging was used to measure N-acetyl-aspartate+N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate and glutamate+glutamine in bilateral inferior frontal cortex and insula, a neighboring perisylvian region affected by methamphetamine, of 45 abstinent methamphetamine-dependent and 45 healthy control participants. Regional neurometabolite levels were tested for group differences and associations with duration of heavy methamphetamine use, depressive symptoms, and state anxiety. Results:In right inferior frontal cortex, N-acetyl-aspartate+N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate correlated with years of heavy methamphetamine use (r = +0.45); glutamate+glutamine was lower in methamphetamine users than in controls (9.3%) and correlated negatively with depressive symptoms (r = -0.44). In left insula, N-acetyl-aspartate+N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate was 9.1% higher in methamphetamine users than controls. In right insula, glutamate+glutamine was 12.3% lower in methamphetamine users than controls and correlated negatively with depressive symptoms (r = -0.51) and state anxiety (r = -0.47). Conclusions:The inferior frontal cortex and insula show methamphetamine-related abnormalities, consistent with prior observations of increased cortical N-acetyl-aspartate in methamphetamine-exposed animal models and associations between cortical glutamate and mood in human methamphetamine users.

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