Alterations in chandelier neuron axon terminals in the prefrontal cortex of schizophrenic subjects.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
American Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 13.56). 12/1999; 156(11):1709-19.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Abnormalities in prefrontal cortical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission may contribute to cognitive dysfunction in schizophrenia. The density of chandelier neuron axon terminals (cartridges) immunoreactive for the GABA membrane transporter (GAT-1) has been reported to be reduced in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of schizophrenic subjects. Because cartridges regulate the output of pyramidal cells, this study analyzed the laminar distribution of GAT-1-immunoreactive cartridges to determine whether certain subpopulations of pyramidal cells are preferentially affected.
Measurements were made of the density of GAT-1 -immunoreactive cartridges in layers 2-3a, 3b-4, and 6 of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex area 46 in 30 subjects with schizophrenia, each of whom was matched to one normal and one psychiatric comparison subject. GAT-1-immunoreactive cartridge density was also examined in monkeys chronically treated with haloperidol.
Relative to both comparison groups, the schizophrenic subjects had significantly lower GAT-1-immunoreactive cartridge density in layers 2-3a and 3b-4. The decrease was most common and most marked in layers 3b-4, where 80% of the schizophrenic subjects exhibited an average 50.1% decrease in cartridge density in comparison with the matched normal subjects. In contrast, GAT-1-immunoreactive cartridge density was unchanged in the haloperidol-treated monkeys.
These findings demonstrate that the density of GAT-1-immunoreactive cartridges is reduced in the majority of schizophrenic subjects and that this alteration may most prominently affect the function of pyramidal cells located in the middle cortical layers. This abnormality may reflect a number of underlying deficits, including a primary defect in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex circuitry or a secondary response to altered thalamic input to this region.

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    ABSTRACT: Abnormalities of GABAergic interneurons are some of the most consistent findings from post-mortem studies of schizophrenia. However, linking these molecular deficits with in vivo observations in patients – a critical goal in order to evaluate interventions that would target GABAergic deficits – presents a challenge. Explanatory models have been developed based on animal work and the emerging experimental literature in schizophrenia patients. This literature includes: neuroimaging ligands to GABA receptors, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of GABA concentration, transcranial magnetic stimulation of cortical inhibitory circuits and pharmacologic probes of GABA receptors to dynamically challenge the GABA system, usually in combination with neuroimaging studies. Pharmacologic challenges have elicited behavioral changes, and preliminary studies of therapeutic GABAergic interventions have been conducted. This article critically reviews the evidence for GABAergic dysfunction from each of these areas. These methods remain indirect measures of GABAergic function, and a broad array of dysfunction is linked with the putative GABAergic measures, including positive symptoms, cognition, emotion, motor processing and sensory processing, covering diverse brain areas. Measures of receptor binding have not shown replicable group differences in binding, and MRS assays of GABA concentration have yielded equivocal evidence of large-scale alteration in GABA concentration. Overall, the experimental base remains sparse, and much remains to be learned about the role of GABAergic interneurons in healthy brains. Challenges with pharmacologic and functional probes show promise, and may yet enable a better characterization of GABAergic deficits in schizophrenia.
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