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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Dec;116(12):1657-65. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0312-z. Epub 2009 Oct 13.

Increased D-amino acid oxidase expression in the bilateral hippocampal CA4 of schizophrenic patients: a post-mortem study.

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  • 1Central Institute of Mental Health, P.O. Box 12 21 20, 68072 Mannheim, Germany.


An important risk gene in schizophrenia is D-: amino acid oxidase (DAAO). To establish if expression of DAAO is altered in cortical, hippocampal or thalamic regions of schizophrenia patients, we measured gene expression of DAAO in a post-mortem study of elderly patients with schizophrenia and non-affected controls in both hemispheres differentiating between gray and white matter. We compared cerebral post-mortem samples (granular frontal cortex BA9, middle frontal cortex BA46, superior temporal cortex BA22, entorhinal cortex BA28, sensoric cortex BA1-3, hippocampus (CA4), mediodorsal nucleus of the thalamus) from 10 schizophrenia patients to 13 normal subjects investigating gene expression of DAAO in the gray and white matter of both hemispheres of the above-mentioned brain regions by in situ-hybridization. We found increased expression of DAAO-mRNA in the hippocampal CA4 of schizophrenic patients. Compared to the control group, both hemispheres of the hippocampus of schizophrenic patients showed an increased expression of 46% (right, P = 0.013) and 54% (left, P = 0.019), respectively. None of the other regions examined showed statistically significant differences in DAAO expression. This post-mortem study demonstrated increased gene expression of DAAO in the left and right hippocampus of schizophrenia patients. This increased expression could be responsible for a decrease in local D-: serine levels leading to a NMDA-receptor hypofunction that is hypothesized to play a major role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. However, our study group was small and results should be verified using larger samples.

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