Absence of age-related prefrontal NAA change in adults with autism spectrum disorders


Atypical trajectory of brain growth in autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) has been recognized as a potential etiology of an atypical course of behavioral development. Numerous neuroimaging studies have focused on childhood to investigate atypical age-related change of brain structure and function, because it is a period of neuron and synapse maturation. Recent studies, however, have shown that the atypical age-related structural change of autistic brain expands beyond childhood and constitutes neural underpinnings for lifelong difficulty to behavioral adaptation. Thus, we examined effects of aging on neurochemical aspects of brain maturation using 3-T proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) with single voxel in the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC) in 24 adult men with non-medicated high-functioning ASDs and 25 age-, IQ- and parental-socioeconomic-background-matched men with typical development (TD). Multivariate analyses of covariance demonstrated significantly high N-acetylaspartate (NAA) level in the ASD subjects compared with the TD subjects (F=4.83, P=0.033). The low NAA level showed a significant positive correlation with advanced age in the TD group (r=−0.618, P=0.001), but was not evident among the ASD individuals (r=0.258, P=0.223). Fisher’s r-to-z transformation showed a significant difference in the correlations between the ASD and TD groups (Z=−3.23, P=0.001), which indicated that the age–NAA relationship was significantly specific to people with TD. The current 1H-MRS study provided new evidence that atypical age-related change of neurochemical aspects of brain maturation in ASD individuals expands beyond childhood and persists during adulthood.

DOI: 10.1038/tp.2012.108

Extracted Key Phrases

4 Figures and Tables


Citations per Year

104 Citations

Semantic Scholar estimates that this publication has 104 citations based on the available data.

See our FAQ for additional information.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Aoki2012AbsenceOA, title={Absence of age-related prefrontal NAA change in adults with autism spectrum disorders}, author={Yoichi Aoki and Osahiko Abe and Naoyuki Yahata and Hiroko Kuwabara and Tatsunobu Natsubori and Norichika Iwashiro and Yoshiro Takano and Hiroshi Inoue and Y O Kawakubo and Wataru Gonoi and Hideo Sasaki and Masanori Murakami and Morihiro Katsura and Yasumasa Nippashi and Hidemasa Takao and Akira Kunimatsu and Hiroshi Matsuzaki and Kenji Tsuchiya and Naoki Kato and Ken Ichi Kasai and Hidenori Yamasue}, booktitle={Translational Psychiatry}, year={2012} }