Neurochemical markers for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression in postmortem brains

Biol Psychiatry. 2005 Feb 1;57(3):252-60. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2004.10.019.


Background: Previous studies of postmortem neurochemical markers in severe psychiatric disorders have been carried out on different brain collections, making it difficult to compare results.

Methods: One hundred RNA, protein, and other neurochemical markers were assessed in a single set of 60 postmortem brains (15 each with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression without psychosis, and unaffected control subjects) in relation to seven neurochemical systems. Quantitative measures of continuous variables for prefrontal, hippocampus, anterior cingulate, superior temporal cortex, or a combination of these were analyzed from published and unpublished studies by 56 research groups.

Results: Before correcting for multiple comparisons, 23% of markers (23/100) were abnormal in one or more regions, with most indicating decreased expression. The largest percentage were associated with the developmental/synaptic (10/22) and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA; 3/7) systems. Bipolar disorder (20) and schizophrenia (19) had the most abnormalities, with a 65% overlap. When all brain areas were considered together and corrected for multiple comparisons, reelin, parvalbumin, and GAD67 were the most abnormal.

Conclusions: Confirming other studies, the GABA and developmental/synaptic neurochemical systems are promising areas for research on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Research should include tissue from both diseases, and additional brain areas should be assessed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / metabolism*
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Quinolines / metabolism
  • Reelin Protein
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Sulfonamides / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • N-(2-(6-((2-ethyl-5,7-dimethyl-3H-imidazo(4,5-b)pyridin-3-yl)methyl)quinolin-2-yl))trifluoromethanesulfonamide
  • Quinolines
  • Reelin Protein
  • Sulfonamides
  • RELN protein, human