Background Treatment-resistant schizophrenia (TRS) and non-TRS may be associated with different dopaminergic and glutamatergic regulations. The concept of dysregulated glutamatergic concentrations in specific brain regions remains controversial. Herein, we aimed to assess (i) the distribution of the glutamatergic concentration in the brain, (ii) the association between working memory (WM) differences in TRS and non-TRS patients, and (iii) whether an alteration in the glutamate (Glu) level is associated with WM. Methods The participants included 38 TRS patients, 35 non-TRS patients, and 19 healthy controls (HCs), all of whom underwent 1.5-Tesla proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). The ratios of glutamatergic neurometabolites to N-acetylaspartate + N-acetyl aspartylglutamate (NAAx) were calculated. Cognitive function was assessed using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales, 4th Edition, which included the working memory index (WMI). Result The TRS patients had a higher glutamate + glutamine (Glx)/NAAx ratio compared to the non-TRS patients and HCs in the ACC, but this was not significantly different in the MPFC. WM was negatively correlated with Glx/NAAx in the ACC among the non-TRS patients, but not in the TRS patients or HCs. Conclusions Our findings were consistent with most studies indicating that the glutamatergic concentration in the ACC plays important roles in the classification of TRS and cognition. Our results may provide potential evidence for predictors and treatment response biomarkers in TRS patients. Further research is needed to probe the value using the relationship between Glu and WM as a potential prognostic predictor of schizophrenia.
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