Increased white matter metabolic rates in autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia

Serge A. Mitelman, Monte S. Buchsbaum, Derek S. Young, M. Mehmet Haznedar, Eric Hollander, Lina Shihabuddin, Erin A. Hazlett, Marie Cecile Bralet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia are often characterized as disorders of white matter integrity. Multimodal investigations have reported elevated metabolic rates, cerebral perfusion and basal activity in various white matter regions in schizophrenia, but none of these functions has previously been studied in ASD. We used 18 fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography to compare white matter metabolic rates in subjects with ASD (n = 25) to those with schizophrenia (n = 41) and healthy controls (n = 55) across a wide range of stereotaxically placed regions-of-interest. Both subjects with ASD and schizophrenia showed increased metabolic rates across the white matter regions assessed, including internal capsule, corpus callosum, and white matter in the frontal and temporal lobes. These increases were more pronounced, more widespread and more asymmetrical in subjects with ASD than in those with schizophrenia. The highest metabolic increases in both disorders were seen in the prefrontal white matter and anterior limb of the internal capsule. Compared to normal controls, differences in gray matter metabolism were less prominent and differences in adjacent white matter metabolism were more prominent in subjects with ASD than in those with schizophrenia. Autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia are associated with heightened metabolic activity throughout the white matter. Unlike in the gray matter, the vector of white matter metabolic abnormalities appears to be similar in ASD and schizophrenia, may reflect inefficient functional connectivity with compensatory hypermetabolism, and may be a common feature of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1290-1305
Number of pages16
JournalBrain Imaging and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Dorsal and ventral streams
  • Hypermetabolism
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Schizophrenia
  • White matter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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