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Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2011 Mar;21(3):254-60. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2010.10.007. Epub 2010 Nov 30.

Abnormalities in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle in the brains of schizophrenia patients.

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  • 1Burke Medical Research Institute of Weill-Cornell Medical School, White Plains, NY 10605, United States.


Images of brain metabolism and measurements of activities of components of the electron transport chain support earlier studies that suggest that brain glucose oxidation is inherently abnormal in a significant proportion of persons with schizophrenia. Therefore, we measured the activities of enzymes of the tricarboxylic (TCA) cycle in dorsolateral-prefrontal-cortex from schizophrenia patients (N=13) and non-psychiatric disease controls (N=13): the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDHC), citrate synthase (CS), aconitase, isocitrate dehydrogenase (ICDH), the alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (KGDHC), succinate thiokinase (STH), succinate dehydrogenase (SDH), fumarase and malate dehydrogenase (MDH). Activities of aconitase (18.4%, p<0.05), KGDHC (26%) and STH (28.2%, p<0.05), enzymes in the first half of the TCA cycle, were lower, but SDH (18.3%, p<0.05) and MDH (34%, p<0.005), enzymes in the second half, were higher than controls. PDHC, CS, ICDH and fumarase activities were unchanged. There were no significant correlations between enzymes of TCA cycle and cognitive function, age or choline acetyl transferase activity, except for aconitase activity which decreased slightly with age (r=0.55, p=003). The increased activities of dehydrogenases in the second half of the TCA cycle may reflect a compensatory response to reduced activities of enzymes in the first half. Such alterations in the components of TCA cycle are adequate to alter the rate of brain metabolism. These results are consistent with the imaging studies of hypometabolism in schizophrenia. They suggest that deficiencies in mitochondrial enzymes can be associated with mental disease that takes the form of schizophrenia.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier B.V. and ECNP. All rights reserved.

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