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Neuroscience. 1998 Sep;86(2):437-48.

Hippocampal and cortical growth-associated protein-43 messenger RNA in schizophrenia.

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University Department of Psychiatry, Warneford Hospital, Oxford, UK.


Growth-associated protein-43 is involved in maturational and plasticity-associated processes, and changes in growth-associated protein-43 expression are a marker of altered plasticity following experimental and neuropathological lesions. Using in situ hybridization, we have investigated growth-associated protein-43 mRNA in the medial temporal lobe and cerebral cortex in 11 normal subjects and 11 matched subjects with schizophrenia, a disorder in which perturbed neurodevelopment and aberrant plasticity are implicated. In the schizophrenia group, growth-associated protein-43 messenger RNA was decreased in the medial temporal lobe, primary visual cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus, but was unaltered in the superior temporal and dorsolateral prefrontal cortices. Correlations of growth-associated protein-43 messenger RNA signal between areas were stronger and more numerous in the schizophrenics than in the controls, suggesting a more global regulation of growth-associated protein-43 expression. Finally, the ratio of growth-associated protein-43 messenger RNA to synaptophysin messenger RNA--a putative index of the production of new synapses--was decreased in the medial temporal lobe in the schizophrenics. Our findings imply that neuronal plasticity as indexed by growth-associated protein-43 expression is impaired, and perhaps aberrantly regulated, in schizophrenia. The data support the emerging view that the disease pathophysiology is one which affects the hippocampal and cortical circuitry and that the abnormalities are reflected in the altered expression of specific neuronal genes.

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