Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and MRI Reveal No Evidence for Brain Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Children with Autism Sp
Posted Mar 16 2011 1:58pm
A study published today looks for mitochondrial dysfunction in autistic children. In specific, the researchers are looking directly at the brains of autistic children. The team, from the University of Washington, used both MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and proton magnetic resonance spectroscropic imaging (HRMS). MRI gives structural information on soft tissues. HMRS is a “spectroscopic” techinque: it gives chemical information on
Here’s a good reference with a discussion of HMRS on brain tissue (as a spectroscopy, not an imaging technique): Quantitative neuropathology by high resolution magic angle spinning proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy
With that background in hand, here is the abstract from the recent study on autism:
Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA.
Brain mitochondrial dysfunction has been proposed as an etiologic factor in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging ((1)HMRS) and MRI were used to assess for evidence of brain mitochondrial dysfunction in longitudinal samples of children with ASD or developmental delay (DD), and cross-sectionally in typically developing (TD) children at 3-4, 6-7 and 9-10 years-of-age. A total of 239 studies from 130 unique participants (54ASD, 22DD, 54TD) were acquired. (1)HMRS and MRI revealed no evidence for brain mitochondrial dysfunction in the children with ASD. Findings do not support a substantive role for brain mitochondrial abnormalities in the etiology or symptom expression of ASD, nor the widespread use of hyperbaric oxygen treatment that has been advocated on the basis of this proposed relationship.
Does this mean that mitochondrial dysfunction never occurs in autistics? No. But it makes it very unlikely that more than a fraction of autistics have mitochondrial dysfunction in their brains.
Beyond that, the use of spectroscopic imaging is very impressive to me. MRI structural data is quite valuable on its own, but adding chemical information is very powerful.