Investigation of m1/m4 muscarinic receptors in the anterior cingulate cortex in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression disorder

Neuropsychopharmacology. 2004 Mar;29(3):619-25. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300367.


Abnormal cholinergic neurotransmission has been suggested to occur in psychiatric illness. Therefore, this study investigated cholinergic muscarinic receptors in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression disorder (n=15 per group). We used quantitative autoradiography to measure [(3)H]pirenzepine binding to M1 and M4 receptors. Brain tissue was obtained from the Stanley Foundation Neuropathology Consortium. [(3)H]pirenzepine binding was higher in superficial laminae (I-II) than in deep laminae (III-VI) of the ACC. There was a significant 24% reduction in the density of [(3)H]pirenzepine in the deep laminae and a significant 19% reduction in the upper laminae of the ACC in the schizophrenia group compared to the control group. There were no differences in [(3)H]pirenzepine binding in any laminae of the ACC in the bipolar or major depression groups compared with the control group, except for a trend towards decreased [(3)H]pirenzepine binding in subjects with major depression relative to control subjects. We also detected a significant effect of suicide on [(3)H]pirenzepine binding in the ACC in subjects who died as a result of suicide relative to those who did not, which was more evident in patients with schizophrenia. A significant effect of the onset of the disease was also observed that was more evident in patients with bipolar disorder. The study provides evidence of decreased muscarinic receptor density in the ACC in schizophrenia but no evidence for significant changes in these receptors in the bipolar and major depression groups. The changes observed in schizophrenia may contribute to dysfunctional ACC neural circuits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bipolar Disorder / metabolism*
  • Bipolar Disorder / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / pathology
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / metabolism*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M1 / metabolism*
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4 / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Schizophrenia / pathology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Receptor, Muscarinic M1
  • Receptor, Muscarinic M4