Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), the principal inhibitory neurotransmitter of CNS, has been consistently implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. GABA is synthesized from glutamate by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Two isoforms of GAD have been identified and have been named GAD65 and GAD67 based on their apparent molecular weights. In this study, GAD65 and GAD67 mRNA and protein levels were measured by using real-time RT-PCR and immunoblotting, respectively, in post-mortem brain tissue from the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the occipital cortex of the elderly persons with schizophrenia and matched normal controls. In addition, the mRNA expression of GAT-1, one of the principal transporters of GABA, was also studied in the same subjects. Expression of GAD65 and GAD67 mRNA in the DLPFC and in the occipital cortex was significantly elevated in patients with schizophrenia, whereas the expression of the corresponding proteins and GAT-1 mRNA was unchanged. Although the levels of GAD65 and GAD67 messages were increased in schizophrenia subjects, the proportion of the two GAD isoforms remained constant in controls and schizophrenics. In the human DLPFC, GAD65 mRNA was found to be expressed significantly less than the message for GAD67, approximately 16% of that observed for GAD67. On the contrary, the abundance of GAD65 protein in the DLPFC was about 350% of that observed for GAD67. The results suggest a substantial dysregulation of GAD mRNA expression in schizophrenia and, taken together with the results of protein expression studies, raise the possibility that both cortical and subcortical GABA function may be compromised in the disease.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.