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Neurochem Res. 1991 Oct;16(10):1099-111.

A review of evidence for GABergic predominance/glutamatergic deficit as a common etiological factor in both schizophrenia and affective psychoses: more support for a continuum hypothesis of "functional" psychosis.

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Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, Orangeburg, New York 10962.


Virtually all antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, including clozapine, rimcazole and lithium ion, are proconvulsants, and convulsive therapy, using metrazol, a known GABA-A antagonist, as well as electro-convulsive therapy, can be effective in treating both schizophrenia and affective psychoses. Many antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, including clozapine, as well as some of their metabolites, reverse the inhibitory effect of GABA on 35S-TBPS binding, a reliable predictor of GABA-A receptor blockade. A review of relevant literature suggests that 1) "functional" psychoses constitute a continuum of disorders ranging from schizophrenia to affective psychoses with overlap of symptoms, heredity and treatments, 2) a weakening of GABergic inhibitory activity, or potentiation of counterbalancing glutamatergic neurotransmission, in the brain, may be involved in the therapeutic activities of both antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs, and 3) schizophrenia and the affective psychoses may be different expressions of the same underlying defect: GABergic preponderance/glutamatergic deficit. Schizophrenia and affective psychoses share the following: 1) several treatments are effective in both, 2) similar modes of inheritance, 3) congruent seasonal birth excesses, 4) enlarged cerebral ventricles and cerebellar vermian atrophy, 5) dexamethasone non-suppression. Both genetic and environmental factors are involved in both schizophrenia and affective psychoses, and several lines of evidence suggest that important environmental factors are neurotropic pathogens that selectively destroy glutamatergic neurons. One group of genes associated with psychoses may increase vulnerability to attack and destruction, by neurotropic pathogens, of excitatory glutamatergic neurons that counterbalance inhibitory GABergic neurons. A second group of genes may encode subunits of overactive GABA-A receptors, while a third group of genes may encode subunits of hypo-active glutamate receptors. Improved antipsychotic drugs may be found among selective blockers of GABA-A receptor subtypes and/or enhancers of glutamatergic neurotransmission. A mechanism similar to kindling, leading to long-lasting reduction of GABergic inhibition in the brain, may be involved in several treatments of psychoses.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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