Decreased Anterior Cingulate Cortex γ-Aminobutyric Acid in Youth With Tourette's Disorder

Rachel D. Freed, Barbara J. Coffey, Xiangling Mao, Nora Weiduschat, Guoxin Kang, Dikoma C. Shungu, Vilma Gabbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background γ-Aminobutyric acid has been implicated in the pathophysiology of Tourette's disorder. The present study primarily sought to examine in vivo γ-aminobutyric acid levels in the anterior cingulate cortex in psychotropic medication-free adolescents and young adults. Secondarily, we sought to determine associations between γ-aminobutyric acid in the anterior cingulate cortex and measures of tic severity, tic-related impairment, and anxiety and depression symptoms. Methods γ-Aminobutyric acid levels were measured using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Analysis of covariance compared γ-aminobutyric acid levels in 15 youth with Tourette's disorder (mean age = 15.0, S.D. = 2.7) and 36 healthy comparison subjects (mean age = 15.9, S.D. = 2.1). Within the Tourette disorder group, we examined correlations between γ-aminobutyric acid levels and tic severity and tic-related impairment, as well as anxiety and depression severity. Results Anterior cingulate cortex γ-aminobutyric acid levels were lower in participants with Tourette's disorder compared with control subjects. Within the Tourette disorder group, γ-aminobutyric acid levels did not correlate with any clinical measures. Conclusions Our findings support a role for γ-aminobutyric acid in Tourette's disorder. Larger prospective studies will further elucidate this role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Neurology
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • GABA
  • MRS
  • Tourette's disorder
  • adolescents
  • children


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