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Schizophr Res. 2001 Oct 1;52(1-2):101-5.

Low GSK-3 activity in frontal cortex of schizophrenic patients.

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Stanley Foundation International Research Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheva, Israel.


Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) (EC is a protein kinase highly abundant in brain and involved in signal transduction cascades of multiple cellular processes, particularly neurodevelopment. Two forms of the enzyme, GSK-3alpha and -3beta have been previously identified. We have previously reported reduced GSK-3beta protein levels in postmortem frontal cortex of schizophrenic patients. In an attempt to explore whether reduction of GSK-3beta levels is brain region specific we examined it in occipital cortex. In order to find out if the reduction in frontal cortex is reflected in altered activity we measured GSK-3 enzymatic activity in this brain region. Western-blot analysis of GSK-3beta was carried out in postmortem occipital cortex of 15 schizophrenic, 15 bipolar, and 15 unipolar patients, and 15 normal controls. GSK-3 activity was measured by quantitating the phosphorylation of the specific substrate phospho-CREB in the frontal cortex specimens. GSK-3beta levels in occipital cortex did not differ between the four diagnostic groups. GSK-3 activity in the frontal cortex of schizophrenic patients was 45% lower than that of normal controls (0.196+/-0.082 and 0.357+/-0.084 pmol/mg proteinxmin, respectively; Kruskal-Wallis analysis: chi-square=8.27, df=3, p=0.04). The other two diagnostic groups showed no difference from the control group. Our results are consistent with the notion that schizophrenia involves neurodevelopmental pathology.

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