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Schizophrenia Complicates With Altered Receptor Activity

When analyzing the neuronal receptor activity in the postmortem brain tissue from patients with schizophrenia, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania //School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists at the City University of New York, have found a striking dysregulation in its function. A high level of erbB4 receptor activity and reduced NMDA receptor activity were identified when the receptors in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenic patient were stimulated. Thus found a link between 2 receptor groups, that regulates a mechanism for decreased NMDA receptor function usually seen in schizophrenic patients.

Schizophrenia, a mental disorder afflicting approximately one percent of the world population, is characterized by a variety of symptoms such as: hallucinations, paranoia, disorganized behavior and the inability to experience pleasure. Previous studies of the brains of patients with schizophrenia suggest altered function in the prefrontal cortex, the brain's organizational center for cognitive function, personality expression, and behavioral control. International, large-scale genetic studies of patients with schizophrenia have pointed researchers to a gene called neuregulin 1 (NRG1), which appears to play a role in determining one's susceptibility to the disease.

Chang-Gyu Hahn, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Steven Arnold, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, and Raquel Gur, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry, and colleagues at Penn, in collaboration with Hoau-Yan Wang, Ph.D., at The City University of New York, took an approach to use NRG1 protein to activate its neuronal receptor, erbB4, to measure the molecular response in postmortem brain tissue.

The binding of NRG1 to erbB4 stimulates neuronal receptor activity by adding phosphate molecules to the site of the receptor. The activation of erbB4, in turn, kicks off a cascade of molecular events within the neuron. When compari
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