The challenges of in-vivo GABA and glutamate measurements in the preterm neonatal brain

GABA and glutamate undergo developmental changes in their organization, and for GABA even its polarity (from Excitation to Inhibition). There are experimental indications that they are also impacted by in-utero insults and by alterations in labor and birth. Animal and human studies also indicate that preterm birth is associated with an increased incidence of developmental disorders and notably Autism Spectrum Disorders. Hence the importance of measuring GABA and glutamate levels in the neonatal brain, and specially the premature one. On our latest review published in NeuroImage I join the team of Catherine Limperopoulos at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. to assess the ex-vivo knowledge on GABA and glutamate in the developing brain and address the challenges of measuring them in-vivo by magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the preterm neonatal brain. This process is complicated by the intrinsic features of magnetic resonance spectroscopy and also by the intricate and complex links between GABA/glutamate levels and synaptic operations during development. We evaluate the different current technical approaches, the challenges to investigate the preterm, term and adult brains as well as the pathological one, and the future avenues for studies in the neonatal population.

Yehezkel Ben-Ari CEO Neurochlore

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