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Schizophrenics Secrete More Psychotic Neurotransmitters

Update Date: Sep 12, 2014 01:51 AM EDT
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Schizophrenics secrete higher amounts of three neurotransmitters that have previously been linked to a many different psychiatric disorders,

Researchers said that latest findings provide more insight into the chemical basis behind schizophrenia, a non-curable disease that affects one in 100 people.

"The study provides new insights into neurotransmitter mechanisms in schizophrenia that can lead to new drug targets and therapeutics," senior author Vivian Hook, PhD, a professor with Skaggs School of Pharmacy and University of California San Diego School of Medicine, said in a news release.

After making functioning neurons made from human induced pluripotent stem cells reprogrammed from skin cells of schizophrenia patients, researchers were able to take the study of human neurons to the next level.

Using stem cell lines from healthy adults, researchers were able to replicate this process by activating neurons to secrete neurotransmitters.

After comparing neurotransmitters in the lab, scientists found that neurons derived from schizophrenia patients secreted significantly greater amounts of the catecholamine neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine.

Researchers said that findings are important as it explains why schizophrenia patients have altered catecholamine neurotransmitter levels, as they are hardwired to have more of the neurons that make these neurotransmitters.

"All behavior has a neurochemical basis in the brain," Hook said. "This study shows that it is possible to look at precise chemical changes in neurons of people with schizophrenia."

The findings are published in the journal Stem Cell.

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