The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology

Brief Report

Metabolite alterations in the hippocampus of high-functioning adult subjects with autism

Katsuaki Suzukia1 c1, Katsuhiko Nishimuraa2, Genichi Sugiharaa1, Kazuhiko Nakamuraa2, Kenji J. Tsuchiyaa1, Kaori Matsumotoa1, Kiyokazu Takebayashia2, Haruo Isodaa3, Harumi Sakaharaa3, Toshiro Sugiyamaa4, Masatsugu Tsujiia5, Nori Takeia1 and Norio Moria2

a1 Osaka-Hamamatsu Joint Research Center for Child Mental Development, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan

a2 Department of Psychiatry and Neurology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan

a3 Department of Radiology, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan

a4 Aichi Children's Health and Medical Center, Obu, Japan

a5 Faculty of Sociology, Chukyo University, Toyota, Japan


The aim of the present study was to investigate metabolite alterations in the hippocampal formation as they relate to aggression in high-functioning adults with autism. We measured concentrations of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), choline-containing compounds (Cho), and creatine plus phosphocreatine (Cr+PCr) in the hippocampal formation by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in 12 non-medicated male subjects with autism and 12 age- and sex-matched controls. Aggression was scored in the autistic subjects using the Buss–Perry Aggression Questionnaire. The concentrations of Cho and Cr+PCr in the hippocampal formation in autistic subjects were significantly higher than the corresponding values in control subjects, and a significant positive correlation was observed between the concentrations of these metabolites in the hippocampal formation and scores on the Buss–Perry Aggression Questionnaire in autistic subjects. Results suggest that high-functioning adult subjects with autism have abnormal metabolite concentrations in the hippocampal formation, which may in part account for their aggression.

(Received April 12 2009)

(Reviewed June 02 2009)

(Revised June 13 2009)

(Accepted October 08 2009)

(Online publication November 09 2009)