Feature Finding Figure

Markedly Lower Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase 67 Protein Levels in a Subset of Boutons in Schizophrenia

Convergent findings indicate that cortical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)ergic circuitry is altered in schizophrenia. Postmortem studies have consistently found lower levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 (GAD67) messenger RNA (mRNA) in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) of subjects with schizophrenia. At the cellular level, the density of GABA neurons with detectable levels of GAD67 mRNA is ~30% lower across cortical layers. Knowing how this transcript deficit translates to GAD67 protein levels in axonal boutons is important for understanding the impact it might have on GABA synthesis. In addition, because reductions in GAD67 expression before, but not after, the maturation of GABAergic boutons results in a lower density of GABAergic boutons in mouse cortical cultures, knowing if GABAergic bouton density is altered in schizophrenia would provide insight into the timing of the GAD67 deficit. PFC tissue sections from 20 matched pairs of schizophrenia and comparison subjects were immunolabeled for the vesicular GABA transporter (vGAT) and GAD67 (Figure, upper left panel). vGAT+ bouton density did not differ between subject groups (Figure, upper right panel), consistent with findings that vGAT mRNA levels are unaltered in the illness and confirming that the number of cortical GABAergic boutons is not lower in schizophrenia. In contrast, in schizophrenia subjects, the proportion of vGAT+ boutons with detectable GAD67 levels (vGAT+/GAD67+ boutons) was 16% lower and mean GAD67 levels were 14% lower in the remaining vGAT+/GAD67+ boutons (Figure, bottom panels). Our findings suggest that GABA production is markedly reduced in a subset of boutons in the PFC of schizophrenia subjects and that this reduction likely occurs after the maturation of GABAergic boutons.
Rocco BR, Lewis DA, Fish KN: Markedly Lower Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase 67 Protein Levels in a Subset of Boutons in Schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry, S0006-3223(15)00641-1, Aug 7, 2015. [ePub ahead of print]

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David A. Lewis, M.D. | Department of Psychiatry | University of Pittsburgh
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