The report in this issue of the Archives by Pettegrew and colleagues1 on the alterations in brain phosphate metabolism in the dorsal prefrontal cortex of patients with schizophrenia not administered medication is an important landmark in the field of functional brain imaging. It demonstrates the application of the newly emerged technique of magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to the study of major psychiatric diseases.
Pettegrew and colleagues used a standard 1.5-T magnetic resonance device to perform spectroscopy in new-onset patients with schizophrenia not administered medication and control subjects matched for age, sex, educational level, and socioeconomic status. Quantification and subsequent comparison of the values for the various spectral peaks revealed significant differences between the patient and control groups. While phosphomonoesters (PMEs) were decreased in the schizophrenic patients, phosphodiesters (PDEs) were increased. These findings most probably reflect alterations in cell membrane phospholipid metabolism. Decreased PME suggests a reduction in membrane synthesis;
Guze BH. Magnetic Resonance SpectroscopyA Technique for Functional Brain Imaging. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1991;48(6):572-574. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1991.01810300084012