Synaptic and plasticity-associated proteins in anterior frontal cortex in severe mental illness

Neuroscience. 1999;91(4):1247-55. doi: 10.1016/s0306-4522(98)00679-4.


Abnormalities of proteins involved in neurotransmission and neural plasticity at synapses are reported in schizophrenia, and may be markers of dysregulated neural connectivity in this illness. Studies of brain development and neural regeneration indicate a dynamic interplay between neural and oligodendroglial mechanisms in regulating synaptic plasticity and axonal sprouting. In the present study, markers of synapses (synaptophysin), plasticity (growth-associated protein-43) and oligodendrocytes (myelin basic protein) were investigated in anterior frontal cortex homogenates from individuals with schizophrenia and depression. Synaptophysin immunoreactivity was reduced in schizophrenics who died of natural causes relative to controls. Myelin basic protein immunoreactivity was decreased in both schizophrenics and depressed individuals who died by suicide. Overall, no changes were observed in growth-associated protein-43 immunoreactivity. However, a slight increase in immunoreactivity in depressed suicides relative to control was observed. These findings support the hypothesis that synaptic abnormalities are a substrate for disordered connectivity in severe mental illness, and suggest that synaptic-oligodendroglial interactions may contribute to the mechanism of dysregulation in certain cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / metabolism*
  • GAP-43 Protein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelin Basic Protein / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Synapses / metabolism*


  • GAP-43 Protein
  • Myelin Basic Protein
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins