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Neurochem Res. 2007 Jan;32(1):107-13. Epub 2006 Dec 9.

Analysis of plasma biopterin levels in psychiatric disorders suggests a common BH4 deficit in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.

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Movement Disorders and Molecular Psychiatry, The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, New York State Office of Mental Health, 140 Old Orangeburg Road, Orangeburg, NY 10962, USA.


Tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) is an essential cofactor for amine neurotransmitter synthesis. BH4 also stimulates and modulates the glutamatergic system, and regulates the synthesis of nitric oxide by nitric oxide synthases. A connection between BH4 deficiencies and psychiatric disorders has been previously reported; major depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder have been found in subjects with a BH4 deficiency disorder and more recently we have observed a robust plasma deficit of biopterin (a measure of BH4), in a large group of schizophrenic patients compared to control subjects. To extend our previous finding in schizophrenia, we analyzed plasma biopterin levels from patients with schizoaffective and bipolar disorders. A significant difference in biopterin was seen among the diagnostic groups (P < 0.0001). Post hoc analyses indicated significant biopterin deficits relative to the normal control group for the schizoaffective group, who had biopterin levels comparable to the schizophrenic group. Bipolar disorder subjects had plasma biopterin levels that were higher that the schizoaffective disorder group and significantly higher than the schizophrenic group. The demonstrated significant biopterin deficit in both schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, may suggest an etiological role of a BH4 deficit in these two disorders, via dysregulation of neurotransmitter systems.

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