Patkee PA, Baburamani AA, Long KR, Dimitrova R, Ciarrusta J, Allsop J, Hughes E, Kangas J, McAlonan GM, Rutherford MA, De Vita E (2021) Neurometabolite mapping highlights elevated myo-inositol profiles within the developing brain in down syndrome. Neurobiol Dis 153: 105316

The neurodevelopmental phenotype in Down Syndrome (DS), or Trisomy 21, is variable including a wide spectrum of cognitive impairment and a high risk of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). A key metabolite of interest within the brain in DS is Myo-inositol (mIns). The NA+/mIns co-transporter is located on human chromosome 21 and is overexpressed in DS. In adults with DS, elevated brain mIns was previously associated with cognitive impairment and proposed as a risk marker for progression to AD. However, it is unknown if brain mIns is increased earlier in development. The aim of this study was to estimate mIns concentration levels and key brain metabolites [N-acetylaspartate (NAA), Choline (Cho) and Creatine (Cr)] in the developing brain in DS and aged-matched controls. We used in vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in neonates with DS (n = 12) and age-matched controls (n = 26) scanned just after birth (36-45 weeks postmenstrual age). Moreover, we used Mass Spectrometry in early (10-20 weeks post conception) ex vivo fetal brain tissue samples from DS (n = 14) and control (n = 30) cases. Relative to [Cho] and [Cr], we report elevated ratios of [mIns] in vivo in the basal ganglia/thalamus, in neonates with DS, when compared to age-matched typically developing controls. Glycine concentration ratios [Gly]/[Cr] and [Cho]/[Cr] also appear elevated. We observed elevated [mIns] in the ex vivo fetal cortical brain tissue in DS compared with controls. In conclusion, a higher level of brain mIns was evident as early as 10 weeks post conception and was measurable in vivo from 36 weeks post-menstrual age. Future work will determine if this early difference in metabolites is linked to cognitive outcomes in childhood or has utility as a potential treatment biomarker for early intervention.

Pubmed: 33711492