Low Thalamic NAA-Concentration Corresponds to Strong Neural Activation in Working Memory in Kleine-Levin Syndrome

Vigren, Patrick; Tisell, Anders; Engström, Maria; Karlsson, Thomas; Leinhard Dahlqvist, Olof; Lundberg, Peter; Landtblom, Anne-Marie
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Kleine Levin Syndrome (KLS) is a rare disorder of periodic hypersomnia and behavioural disturbances in young individuals. It has previously been shown to be associated with disturbances of working memory (WM), which, in turn, was associated with higher activation of the thalamus with increasing WM load, demonstrated with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). In this study we aimed to further elucidate how these findings are related to the metabolism of the thalamus. Methods: fMRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy were applied while performing a WM task. Standard metabolites were examined: n-acetylaspartate (NAA), myo-inositol, choline, creatine and glutamate-glutamine. Fourteen KLS-patients and 15 healthy controls participated in the study. The patients with active disease were examined in asymptomatic periods. Results: There was a statistically significant negative correlation between thalamic fMRI-activation and thalamic NAA, i.e., high fMRI-activation corresponded to low NAA-levels. This correlation was not seen in healthy controls. Thalamic levels of NAA in patients and controls showed no significant differences between the groups. None of the other metabolites showed any co-variation with fMRI-activiation. Conclusion: This study shows negative correlation between NAA-levels and fMRI-activity in the left thalamus of KLS-patients while performing a WM task. This correlation could not be found in healthy control subjects, primarily interpreted as an effect of increased effort in the patient group upon performing the task. It might indicate a disturbance in the neuronal networks responsible for WM in KLS patients, resulting in higher effort at lower WM load, compared with healthy subjects. The general relationship between NAA and BOLD-signal is also discussed in the article.


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