Expression of the ionotropic glutamate receptor subunits and NMDA receptor-associated intracellular proteins in the substantia nigra in schizophrenia

Academic Article


  • Multiple neurotransmitter systems have been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Dopamine hyperactivity has often been implicated in this illness. More recently, the glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia suggests that NMDA receptor (NMDAR) hypofunction may also play a role in this illness. This is based primarily on studies showing that phencyclidine, an NMDAR antagonist, can induce a schizophreniform psychosis. While NMDAR dysfunction is most often implicated in schizophrenia, other components of the glutamate system, such as the AMPA and kainate receptors, as well as NMDAR-associated intracellular proteins, may also play a role in regulating NMDA receptor activity and glutamate neurotransmission. There is growing interest in the hypothesis that the pathophysiology of schizophrenia involves alterations in dopamine-glutamate interactions. The glutamate system is anatomically and functionally linked to the dopamine system, and glutamate can modulate dopaminergic activity and release by stimulating various glutamate receptor subtypes expressed by dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area. In this study, we investigated dopamine-glutamate interactions by measuring the expression of transcripts encoding the subunits for the ionotropic glutamate receptors (NMDA, AMPA and kainate) and five NMDAR-associated intracellular proteins, PSD-93, PSD-95, SAP102, NF-L and yotiao in the dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) of subjects with schizophrenia and a comparison group. Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH, a marker of dopamine-synthesizing cells), NR1 (an NMDA receptor subunit) and GluR5 (a kainate subunit) transcript levels were significantly increased in the SNc in schizophrenia. These data support the hypothesis that schizophrenia may involve alterations in dopamine-glutamate interactions. © 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Published In

  • Brain Research  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Mueller HT; Haroutunian V; Davis KL; Meador-Woodruff JH
  • Start Page

  • 60
  • End Page

  • 69
  • Volume

  • 121
  • Issue

  • 1-2