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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00578

Glutamate concentration in the superior temporal sulcus relates to neuroticism in schizophrenia

 Johanna Balz1*,  Yadira Roa Romero1,  Julian Keil2,  Florian Schubert3, Bernd Ittermann3, Ralf Mekle1,  Christiane Montag1, Jürgen Gallinat4 and  Daniel Senkowski1*
  • 1Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
  • 2Department of Biological Psychology, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel, Germany
  • 3Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Germany
  • 4Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

Clinical studies suggest aberrant neurotransmitter concentrations in the brains of patients with schizophrenia (SCZ). Numerous studies have indicated deviant glutamate concentrations in SCZ, although the findings are inconsistent. Moreover, alterations in glutamate concentrations could be linked to personality traits in SCZ. Here, we examined the relationships between personality dimensions and glutamate concentrations in a voxel encompassing the occipital cortex (OCC) and another voxel encompassing the left superior temporal sulcus (STS). We used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to examine glutamate concentrations in the OCC and the STS in 19 SCZ and 21 non-psychiatric healthy control (HC) participants. Personality dimensions neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness were assessed using the NEO-FFI questionnaire. SCZ compared to HC showed higher glutamate concentrations in the STS, reduced extraversion scores, and enhanced neuroticism scores. No group differences were observed for the other personality traits and for glutamate concentrations in the OCC. For the SCZ group, Glutamate concentrations in STS were negatively correlated with the neuroticism scores (r = -.537, p = .018) but this was not found in HC (r(19) = .011, p = .962). No other significant correlations were found. Our study showed an inverse relationship between glutamate concentrations in the STS and neuroticism scores in SCZ. Elevated glutamate in the STS might serve as a compensatory mechanism that enables patients with enhanced concentrations to control and prevent the expression of neuroticism.

Keywords: Schizophrenia, Glutamate, neuroticism, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), superior temporal sulcus (STS)

Received: 15 Jan 2018; Accepted: 05 Apr 2018.

Edited by:

Joachim Lange, Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf, Germany

Reviewed by:

Kazutaka Ohi, Kanazawa Medical University, Japan
Ronald Gurrera, VA Boston Healthcare System, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Balz, Roa Romero, Keil, Schubert, Ittermann, Mekle, Montag, Gallinat and Senkowski. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Ms. Johanna Balz, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany, johanna.balz@charite.de
Prof. Daniel Senkowski, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Daniel.Senkowski@charite.de