Altered Cortical GABA Neurotransmission in Schizophrenia: Insights into Novel Therapeutic Strategies
Ana D. Stan and David A. Lewis
Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O’Hara Street, W1651 BST, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.
Keywords: Chandelier neuron, basket neuron, parvalbumin, GABA-A receptor, prefrontal cortex, "axon terminals", "GABA synthesis", novel therapeutic strategies
Altered markers of cortical GABA neurotransmission are among the most consistently observed abnormalities
in postmortem studies of schizophrenia. The altered markers are particularly evident between the chandelier class of
GABA neurons and their synaptic targets, the axon initial segment (AIS) of pyramidal neurons. For example, in the dorsolateral
prefrontal cortex of subjects with schizophrenia immunoreactivity for the GABA membrane transporter is decreased
in presynaptic chandelier neuron axon terminals, whereas immunoreactivity for the GABAA receptor α2 subunit is
increased in postsynaptic AIS. Both of these molecular changes appear to be compensatory responses to a presynaptic
deficit in GABA synthesis, and thus could represent targets for novel therapeutic strategies intended to augment the
brain’s own compensatory mechanisms. Recent findings that GABA inputs from neocortical chandelier neurons can be
powerfully excitatory provide new ideas about the role of these neurons in the pathophysiology of cortical dysfunction in
schizophrenia, and consequently in the design of pharmacological interventions.
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