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J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Nov;116(11):1383-96. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0319-5.

The interplay between mitochondrial complex I, dopamine and Sp1 in schizophrenia.

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Laboratory of Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry, Rambam Medical Center and Faculty of Medicine, Rappaport Family Institute for Research in the Medical Sciences, Technion IIT, Haifa, Israel.


Schizophrenia is currently believed to result from variations in multiple genes, each contributing a subtle effect, which combines with each other and with environmental stimuli to impact both early and late brain development. At present, schizophrenia clinical heterogeneity as well as the difficulties in relating cognitive, emotional and behavioral functions to brain substrates hinders the identification of a disease-specific anatomical, physiological, molecular or genetic abnormality. Mitochondria play a pivotal role in many essential processes, such as energy production, intracellular calcium buffering, transmission of neurotransmitters, apoptosis and ROS production, all either leading to cell death or playing a role in synaptic plasticity. These processes have been well established as underlying altered neuronal activity and thereby abnormal neuronal circuitry and plasticity, ultimately affecting behavioral outcomes. The present article reviews evidence supporting a dysfunction of mitochondria in schizophrenia, including mitochondrial hypoplasia, impairments in the oxidative phosphorylation system (OXPHOS) as well as altered mitochondrial-related gene expression. Abnormalities in mitochondrial complex I, which plays a major role in controlling OXPHOS activity, are discussed. Among them are schizophrenia specific as well as disease-state-specific alterations in complex I activity in the peripheral tissue, which can be modulated by DA. In addition, CNS and peripheral abnormalities in the expression of three of complex I subunits, associated with parallel alterations in their transcription factor, specificity protein 1 (Sp1) are reviewed. Finally, this review discusses the question of disease specificity of mitochondrial pathologies and suggests that mitochondria dysfunction could cause or arise from anomalities in processes involved in brain connectivity.

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