Altered neurometabolism in major depressive disorder: A whole brain 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging study at 3T

Kai G. Kahl, Sirin Atalay, Andrew A. Maudsley, Sulaiman Sheriff, Anna Cummings, Helge Frieling, Birte Schmitz, Heinrich Lanfermann, Xiao Qi Ding

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3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a severe mental disorder with a neurobiological basis that is poorly understood. Several studies demonstrated widespread, functional and neurometabolic alterations in MDD. However, little is known about whole brain neurometabolic alterations in MDD. Method: Thirty-two patients with MDD and 32 paired on a one-to-one basis healthy controls (CTRL) underwent 1H-whole brain spectroscopic (1H-WBS) imaging. Lobar and cerebellar metabolite concentrations of brain N-acetylaspartate (NAA), total choline (tCho), total creatine (tCr), glutamine (Gln), glutamate (Glu), and myo-Inositol (mI) were assessed in patients and controls. Results: Decreased NAA, tCho, and tCr were found in the right frontal and right parietal lobe in MDD compared to CTRL, and to a lesser extent in the left frontal lobe. Furthermore, in MDD increased glutamine was observed in the right frontal lobe and bitemporal lobes, and increased glutamate in the cerebellum. Conclusion: Altered global neurometabolism examined using 1H-WBS imaging in MDD may be interpreted as signs of neuronal dysfunction, altered energy metabolism, and oligodendrocyte dysfunction. In particular, the parallel decrease in NAA, tCr and tCho in the same brain regions may be indicative of neuronal dysfunction that may be counterbalanced by an increase of the neuroprotective metabolite glutamine. Future prospective investigations are warranted to study the functional importance of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109916
JournalProgress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
StatePublished - Jul 13 2020


  • Major depressive disorder
  • Neurometabolism
  • Whole brain spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Biological Psychiatry


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