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A Pilot Study of Anterior Cingulate Cortex Neurochemistry in Adolescents with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Strawn J.R.a · Chu W.-J.a · Whitsel R.M.a · Weber W.A.a · Norris M.M.b · Adler C.M.a · Eliassen J.C.b · Phan K.L.c, d · Strakowski S.M.a, b · DelBello M.P.a
aDepartment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience and bCenter for Imaging Research, University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio, cDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago, and dMental Health Service Line, Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, Chicago, Ill., USA Neuropsychobiology 2013;67:224-229 (DOI:10.1159/000347090)


Background/Aims: This study used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) to evaluate the neurochemistry of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in adolescents with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Methods: Adolescents with GAD (n = 10) and healthy subjects (n = 10) underwent a 1H MRS scan at 4 T. Glutamate (Glu), N-acetyl aspartate, creatine (Cr) and myo-inositol concentrations were measured in the ACC and were compared between untreated adolescents with GAD and age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Results: Glu/Cr ratios in the ACC correlated with the severity of both generalized anxiety symptoms on the Pediatric Anxiety Rating Scale and with total anxiety symptom severity as measured by the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale, but did not differ between adolescents with GAD and healthy subjects. In addition, no differences in N-acetyl aspartate, Cr, or myo-inositol were detected between groups. Conclusion: These findings suggest that Glu/Cr in untreated adolescents with GAD may relate to the severity of anxiety symptoms and raise the possibility that dysregulation of Glu within the ACC may be linked to the pathophysiology of pediatric GAD.


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