Decreased protein level of nicotinic receptor alpha7 subunit in the frontal cortex from schizophrenic brain

Neuroreport. 1999 Jun 3;10(8):1779-82. doi: 10.1097/00001756-199906030-00028.


The alpha7 subunit of nicotinic receptor (nAChR) was investigated in post-mortem brain tissue from eight schizophrenics and eight age-matched controls by Western blot. Using anti-alpha7 antibodies a single band with a mol. wt of 42 kDa was detected in human post-mortem brain, which was smaller in size than the single band (52 kDa) detected in SH-SY5Y and PC12 cells. The smaller band specifically bound to [125I]alpha-bungarotoxin, confirming the specificity of the detection in the human brain samples. A significant decrease in the level of alpha7 subunit protein was observed with the same method in the frontal cortex of schizophrenics compared with controls, while no difference was found in the parietal cortex. These findings suggest that a deficit of nAChR alpha7 subunit in the frontal cortex might be involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prefrontal Cortex / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor


  • Chrna7 protein, human
  • Chrna7 protein, rat
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • alpha7 Nicotinic Acetylcholine Receptor