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Psychiatry Res. 2009 Aug 30;173(2):143-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2009.03.004. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

Oral glycine administration increases brain glycine/creatine ratios in men: a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study.

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  • 1Brain Imaging Center, McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA 02478, United States.


Oral high-dose glycine administration has been used as an adjuvant treatment for schizophrenia to enhance glutamate neurotransmission and mitigate glutamate system hypofunction thought to contribute to the disorder. Prior studies in schizophrenia subjects documented clinical improvements after 2 weeks of oral glycine administration, suggesting that brain glycine levels are sufficiently elevated to evoke a clinical response within that time frame. However, no human study has reported on brain glycine changes induced by its administration. We utilized a noninvasive proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H-MRS) technique termed echo time-averaged (TEAV) (1)H-MRS, which permits noninvasive quantification of brain glycine in vivo, to determine whether 2 weeks of oral glycine administration (peak dose of 0.8 g/kg/day) increased brain glycine/creatine (Gly/Cr) ratios in 11 healthy adult men. In scans obtained 17 h after the last glycine dose, brain (Gly/Cr) ratios were significantly increased. The data indicate that it is possible to measure brain glycine changes with proton spectroscopy. Developing a more comprehensive understanding of human brain glycine dynamics may lead to optimized use of glycine site agonists and glycine transporter inhibitors to treat schizophrenia, and possibly to treat other disorders associated with glutamate system dysfunction.

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