NAA/Glu Ratio Associated with Suicidal Ideation in Pilot Sample of Autistic Youth and Young Adults

Iska Moxon-Emre, Paul E. Croarkin, Zafiris J. Daskalakis, Daniel M. Blumberger, Rachael E. Lyon, Hideaki Tani, Peter Truong, Meng Chuan Lai, Pushpal Desarkar, Napapon Sailasuta, Peter Szatmari, Stephanie H. Ameis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Suicidality is increased in autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet effective interventions are lacking. Developing biologically based approaches for preventing and treating suicidality in ASD hinges on the identification of biomarkers of suicidal ideation (SI). Here, we assessed magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) markers of glutamatergic neurotransmission in ASD youth and young adults. Twenty-eight ASD participants (16–33 years) underwent1H-MRS, and metabolites were quantified using LCModel. N-acetylaspartate (NAA), glutamate (Glu), and the NAA/Glu ratio from the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were compared between ASD SI+ (n = 13) and ASD SI− (n = 15) participants. We found that ASD SI+ participants had a higher NAA/Glu ratio compared ASD SI− participants. The NAA/Glu ratio also predicted SI and significantly discriminated between ASD SI+/SI− participants. All analyses including NAA and Glu alone were non-significant. Here, we provide preliminary evidence for the importance of NAA/Glu in ASD with SI, with implications for biomarker discovery. Further mechanistic research into risk and interventional approaches to address SI in ASD are needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number785
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • suicidality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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