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Brain-nourishing molecule may predict schizophrenia relapse
Date:10/15/2008

the future, if the study results point in that direction," says Dr. Pillai. He also studies an animal model that has many behavioral as well as neurochemical abnormalities similar to schizophrenia. He's shown the downstream signaling of BDNF, a key pathway in the regulation of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, is not working well in these animals. "Now we are going to see how we can rectify the problem," says Dr. Pillai who wants to keep BDNF levels on a more even keel.

About a dozen older schizophrenia medications and a handful of new ones adjust the activity level of a variety of neurotransmitters in the brain, Dr. Pillai says. Animal studies have shown the drugs have a differing impact on BDNF as well. Most initially improve the level then, with time, levels decrease of this factor that is required for brain development as well as cell proliferation, migration, differentiation and survival.

In the normal adult brain, BDNF increases stem cell proliferation so the brain is better armed if something bad, like a stroke, happens. Trophic factors such as BDNF also induce anti-apoptotic mechanisms that keep cells from committing suicide when stressed by a lack of oxygen, for example. Exactly where BDNF comes from or what controls endogenous levels is still unclear. Exercise can increase BDNF levels. Two drugs currently on the market for other medical conditions erythropoietin for anemia and cysteamine for cystinosis can as well. Dr. Pillai hopes his laboratory studies of these drugs will soon result in an adjunct therapy that can help patients avoid devastating relapse. "Our aim is to bring BDNF levels back to normal." Dr. Pillai and colleagues already have shown in their animal studies that antipsychotic drugs do better boosting brain BDNF levels when administered along with any of the above drugs. He adds that both cysteamine and erythropoietin have been well studied for their potential to enhance cognitive function.

Schizophrenia
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@mcg.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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