Author(s): Deutsch SI, Rosse RB, Schwartz BL, Mastropaolo J
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Abstract A revision of an "excitotoxic hypothesis" of schizophrenia is summarized. The hypothesis suggests that in, at least, a subtype of patients with schizophrenia, progressive excitotoxic neuronal cell death in hippocampal and cortical areas occurs via "disinhibition" of glutamatergic projections to these areas. Patients who have excitotoxic damage would be expected to have poor outcomes characterized, perhaps, by anatomic evidence of progressive neurodegeneration, pronounced negative symptoms and cognitive deficits, and profound psychosocial deterioration. Disinhibited glutamatergic activity could result from inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated neurotransmission and a consequent failure to stimulate inhibitory gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic interneurons, and/or anatomic degeneration of inhibitory GABAergic interneurons. The result of these hypothesized mechanisms is excessive stimulation of the alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)/kainate class of glutamate receptor complexes. In turn, this excessive stimulation of AMPA/kainate receptors could lead to disruption of ionic gradients, depletion of energy reserves expended in an attempt to restore and maintain the ionic disequilibrium across neuronal membranes, generation of reactive oxygen species, and cell death from apoptotic and other mechanisms. The postulated existence of disinhibited glutamatergic neurotransmission and the subsequent cascade of excitotoxic events resulting from NMDA receptor hypofunction (NRH), anatomic degeneration of inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, or a combination of the two has suggested a diverse variety of experimental therapeutic interventions for schizophrenia. These interventions include facilitation of NMDA receptor-mediated neurotransmission, potentiation of GABAergic neurotransmission, antagonism of AMPA/kainate receptors, and "quenching" of locally generated reactive oxygen species. In fact, several of these approaches have already been pursued or are proposed as part of a systematic clinical investigation of the revised excitotoxic hypothesis of schizophrenia.
This article was published in Clin Neuropharmacol
and referenced in Journal of Neurological Disorders