Even though anomalies on brain metabolites have been found in schizophrenia, researches about subjects with high risk (HR) show heterogeneous results. Thus, this meta-analysis aims to characterize the metabolic profile of HR subjects, first, compared to controls (HC) and then compared to people with schizophrenia.
After a systematic database search, means and standard deviations were extracted to calculate standardized mean differences (SMD). Cerebral metabolites levels were compared between HR subjects and HC or patients with schizophrenia in all regions of interest investigated in included studies. Meta-regressions were performed to explore the influence of demographic and clinical variables on metabolites level’s SMDs.
Thirty-nine studies were included in this meta-analysis. A higher level of glutamine + glutamate (Glx) was found in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) (p < 0.01) and potentially in the basal ganglia (p = 0,05) as well as a higher level of myo-inositol (mI) in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) (p = 0.04) in HR subjects compared to HC. A higher level of choline (Cho) was found in people with schizophrenia compared to HR subjects in the DLPFC (p < 0.001) and the medial temporal lobe (p = 0.02). Meta-regression analyses showed negative associations between SMD for Cho concentration, the percentage of females or the age (p = 0.01).
The present meta-analysis provides evidence that some brain metabolites concentrations are disrupted before the transition to psychosis and could be considered like a vulnerability.

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