Navigation Links
High levels of glutamate in brain may kick-start schizophrenia

New York, NY (April 18, 2013) An excess of the brain neurotransmitter glutamate may cause a transition to psychosis in people who are at risk for schizophrenia, reports a study from investigators at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) published in the current issue of Neuron.

The findings suggest 1) a potential diagnostic tool for identifying those at risk for schizophrenia and 2) a possible glutamate-limiting treatment strategy to prevent or slow progression of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders.

"Previous studies of schizophrenia have shown that hypermetabolism and atrophy of the hippocampus are among the most prominent changes in the patient's brain," said senior author Scott Small, MD, Boris and Rose Katz Professor of Neurology at CUMC. "The most recent findings had suggested that these changes occur very early in the disease, which may point to a brain process that could be detected even before the disease begins."

To locate that process, the Columbia researchers used neuroimaging tools in both patients and a mouse model. First they followed a group of 25 young people at risk for schizophrenia to determine what happens to the brain as patients develop the disorder. In patients who progressed to schizophrenia, they found the following pattern: First, glutamate activity increased in the hippocampus, then hippocampus metabolism increased, and then the hippocampus began to atrophy.

To see if the increase in glutamate led to the other hippocampus changes, the researchers turned to a mouse model of schizophrenia. When the researchers increased glutamate activity in the mouse, they saw the same pattern as in the patients: The hippocampus became hypermetabolic and, if glutamate was raised repeatedly, the hippocampus began to atrophy.

Theoretically, this dysregulation of glutamate and hypermetabolism could be identified through imaging individuals who are either at risk for or in the early stage of disease. For these patients, treatment to control glutamate release might protect the hippocampus and prevent or slow the progression of psychosis.

Strategies to treat schizophrenia by reducing glutamate have been tried before, but with patients in whom the disease is more advanced. "Targeting glutamate may be more useful in high-risk people or in those with early signs of the disorder," said Jeffrey A. Lieberman, MD, a renowned expert in the field of schizophrenia, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at CUMC, and president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association. "Early intervention may prevent the debilitating effects of schizophrenia, increasing recovery in one of humankind's most costly mental disorders."

In an accompanying commentary, Bita Moghaddam, professor of neuroscience and of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, suggests that if excess glutamate is driving schizophrenia in high-risk individuals, it may also explain why a patient's first psychotic episodes are often caused by periods of stress, since stress increases glutamate levels in the brain.


Contact: Karin Eskenazi
Columbia University Medical Center

Related biology news :

1. PCBs levels down in Norwegian polar bears
2. Growing nitrous oxide levels explained
3. High levels of TRAIL protein in breast milk might contribute to anticancer activity
4. Research!America says house funding levels for FY13 could undermine medical progress
5. Mercury in dolphins: Study compares toxin levels in captive and wild sea mammals
6. Cardio fitness levels of breast cancer patients may affect survival
7. UCSB anthropologists finds high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in breast milk of Amerindian women
8. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in Arctic coastal seas
9. New study: Snacking on raisins significantly reduces overall post-meal blood sugar levels
10. Low vitamin D levels linked to weight gain in some older women
11. Lab-on-a-chip detects trace levels of toxic vapors in homes near Utah Air Force Base
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/26/2015)... -- Research and Markets ( ) has announced ... Technology and Patent Infringement Risk Analysis" report to ... --> Fingerprint sensors using capacitive technology represent a ... vendor Idex forecasts an increase of 360% of the ... of the fingerprint sensor market between 2014 and 2017 ...
(Date:11/18/2015)... 2015  As new scientific discoveries deepen our understanding ... healthcare providers face challenges in better using that knowledge ... addition, as more children continue to survive pediatric cancer, ... old age. John M. Maris, M.D ., ... Philadelphia (CHOP) . --> John M. ...
(Date:11/17/2015)... -- Vigilant Solutions announces today that Mr. Dick W. ... --> --> Mr. Boyce ... at TPG Capital, one of the largest global investment ... revenue.  He founded and led TPG,s Operating Group, which ... 1997 to 2013.  In his first role, he served ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... 30, 2015  Champions Oncology, Inc. (CSBR), engaged in ... personalize the development and use of oncology drugs, today ... will be presenting at the LD MICRO Investor Conference ... Time (PST).  The conference, held at the Luxe Sunset ... , will feature 200 small/micro-cap companies and is ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... JACKSONVILLE, Florida , November 30, 2015 ... company specializing in the development of innovative peptide and ... & metastatic disease, today announced it will be presenting ... Event on December 1, 2015 at 2.30 PM PT. ... member and Strategic Advisor will be giving the presentation ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... -- Aytu BioScience, Inc. (OTCQB: AYTU), a commercial-stage specialty healthcare ... at two upcoming investor conferences. Aytu is scheduled to ... to be held December 3, 2015, and at LD ... 2 nd & 3 rd , 2015 in ... via webcast. Josh Disbrow , Chief Executive ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Florida and MAGDEBURG, Germany , ... of NeuroRehabilitation (ECNR) in Vienna, Austria ... 3rd European Congress of NeuroRehabilitation (ECNR) in ... --> NovaVision, a wholly owned subsidiary of Vycor ... European version of its Internet-delivered NovaVision Therapy Suite at the ...
Breaking Biology Technology: