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Neuropsychobiology. 2004;50(4):305-10.

Decreased levels of dopamine D3 receptor mRNA in schizophrenic and bipolar patients.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ernst Moritz Arndt University, Greifswald, Germany.


Previous studies found an elevation of the dopamine D3 receptor (DRD3) mRNA as determined in peripheral lymphocytes in schizophrenic patients. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis of elevated DRD3 mRNA in schizophrenia compared to bipolar disorder. Twenty-four patients, 13 schizophrenic and 11 bipolar, were included according to DSM-IV criteria. Psychometric measures were conducted using the Scale for the Assessment of Positive Symptoms, Scale for the Assessment of Negative Symptoms, Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale and Young Mania Rating Scale. mRNA was isolated from lymphocytes of venous blood samples and DRD3 mRNA was quantified using real-time reverse transcription PCR. We found a decrease in DRD3 mRNA in 13 schizophrenic (p = 0.009) and 11 bipolar (p = 0.023) patients as compared to controls. Medication history and severity of positive symptoms did not significantly influence DRD3 expression. Higher levels of DRD3 mRNA were correlated with negative schizophrenic symptoms. Interestingly, after treatment of patients with antipsychotics, DRD3 mRNA levels increased to similar levels as those of healthy controls. Bipolar patients, however, showed a slower increase in DRD3 mRNA levels after 3 weeks of therapy. Our findings suggest that the expression of DRD3 mRNA is reduced in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, supporting the hypothesis of distorted homeostasis of dopamine receptor subtypes in psychotic disorder. The observed diminution was not specific for schizophrenia but also for bipolar disorder requiring further analysis of the regulatory factors involved in dopamine receptor subtype expression.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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