Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 640–642 | Cite as

Substantial Problems with Measuring Brain Mitochondrial Dysfunction in Autism Spectrum Disorder Using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

  • Daniel A. RossignolEmail author
  • Richard E. Frye
Letter to the editor

We read with interest the recent study by Corrigan et al. (Corrigan et al. 2011). The authors demonstrated that the prevalence of a lactate peak in the brain using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) measurements was no different between children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and typically developing control subjects. Since a lactate peak is a marker of mitochondrial dysfunction, the authors suggest that their study finds no evidence of mitochondrial dysfunction in children with ASD and suggest that this finding supports the idea that there is no association between mitochondrial dysfunction and ASD. While their findings are interesting and certainly add to the understanding of the complex biochemical abnormalities associated with ASD, we believe that the findings from Corrigan et al. (Corrigan et al. 2011) neither support nor refute an association between mitochondrial dysfunction and ASD for several reasons which we will outline below. We are particularly concerned that the...


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder Mitochondrial Dysfunction Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Mitochondrial Disease 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bates, T. E., Strangward, M., Keelan, J., Davey, G. P., Munro, P. M., & Clark, J. B. (1996). Inhibition of N-acetylaspartate production: Implications for 1H MRS studies in vivo. Neuroreport, 7, 1397–1400.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boumezbeur, F., Mason, G. F., de Graaf, R. A., Behar, K. L., Cline, G. W., Shulman, G. I., et al. (2010). Altered brain mitochondrial metabolism in healthy aging as assessed by in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 30, 211–221.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Chauhan, A., F. Gu, M.M. Essa, J. Wegiel, K. Kaur.,& W. Ted Brown, et al. (2011). Brain region-specific deficit in mitochondrial electron transport chain complexes in children with autism. Journal of neurochemistry.Google Scholar
  4. Clark, J. B. (1998). N-acetyl aspartate: A marker for neuronal loss or mitochondrial dysfunction. Developmental Neuroscience, 20, 271–276.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Corrigan, N.M., D.W. Shaw, T.L. Richards, A.M. Estes, S.D. Friedman., & H. Petropoulos, et al. (2011). Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy and MRI reveal no evidence for brain mitochondrial dysfunction in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders.Google Scholar
  6. Ezugha, H., M. Goldenthal, I. Valencia, C.E. Anderson, A. Legido., & H. Marks. (2010). 5q14.3 Deletion manifesting as mitochondrial disease and autism: Case report. Journal of child neurology.Google Scholar
  7. Friedman, S. D., Shaw, D. W., Artru, A. A., Richards, T. L., Gardner, J., Dawson, G., et al. (2003). Regional brain chemical alterations in young children with autism spectrum disorder. Neurology, 60, 100–107.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Friedman, S. D., Shaw, D. W., Artru, A. A., Dawson, G., Petropoulos, H., & Dager, S. R. (2006). Gray and white matter brain chemistry in young children with autism. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 786–794.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Giulivi, C., Zhang, Y. F., Omanska-Klusek, A., Ross-Inta, C., Wong, S., Hertz-Picciotto, I., et al. (2010). Mitochondrial dysfunction in autism. JAMA, 304, 2389–2396.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Graf, W. D., Marin-Garcia, J., Gao, H. G., Pizzo, S., Naviaux, R. K., Markusic, D., et al. (2000). Autism associated with the mitochondrial DNA G8363A transfer RNA(Lys) mutation. Journal of Child Neurology, 15, 357–361.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Pons, R., Andreu, A. L., Checcarelli, N., Vila, M. R., Engelstad, K., Sue, C. M., et al. (2004). Mitochondrial DNA abnormalities and autistic spectrum disorders. Journal of Pediatrics, 144, 81–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Rossignol, D.A., & R. E. Frye. (2011). Mitochondrial dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Molecular psychiatry.Google Scholar
  13. Weissman, J. R., Kelley, R. I., Bauman, M. L., Cohen, B. H., Murray, K. F., Mitchell, R. L., et al. (2008). Mitochondrial disease in autism spectrum disorder patients: A cohort analysis. PLoS ONE, 3, e3815.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Child Development Resource CenterMelbourneUSA
  2. 2.Division of Child and Adolescent Neurology and Children’s Learning Institute, Department of PediatricsUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at HoustonHoustonUSA

Personalised recommendations