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Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 1999 Apr;29(2-3):250-64.

An integrated view of pathophysiological models of schizophrenia.

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Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7250, USA.


Pathophysiological processes that underlie the profound neuropsychiatric disturbances in schizophrenia are poorly understood. However, the clinical course of the disease, and a number of clinical and basic science observations, provide direction for formulating pathophysiological models that could be empirically tested. For example, repeated psychostimulant administration to healthy subjects can induce psychotic symptoms, and acute stimulant challenge in schizophrenia patients can precipitate psychosis. Also, NMDA antagonists induce positive, negative, and cognitive schizophrenic-like symptoms in healthy volunteers and precipitate thought disorder and delusions in schizophrenia patients. These human studies provide support for the dopamine and NMDA receptor hypofunction hypotheses of schizophrenia. Well-documented effects of NMDA antagonists on dopamine systems provide a basis to integrate the dopamine and NMDA receptor hypofunction hypotheses. Furthermore, it has become apparent that prominent actions of antipsychotic drugs, especially those with 'atypical' properties, involve antagonism of behavioral, electrophysiological and brain metabolic effects produced by administration of NMDA receptor antagonists. A confluence of clinical and basic science data suggests that an early developmental insult, potentially involving reduced NMDA receptor function, could facilitate sensitization of dopamine systems, leading to the formal onset of schizophrenia in late adolescence and early adulthood. Although clearly speculative, this conceptual model is consistent with existing evidence and suggests lines of future experimental investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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