Altered purinergic receptor expression in the frontal cortex in schizophrenia

Schizophrenia (Heidelb). 2022 Nov 14;8(1):96. doi: 10.1038/s41537-022-00312-1.


ATP functions as a neurotransmitter, acting on the ubiquitously expressed family of purinergic P2 receptors. In schizophrenia (SCZ), the pathways that modulate extracellular ATP and its catabolism to adenosine are dysregulated. However, the effects of altered ATP availability on P2 receptor expression in the brain in SCZ have not been assessed. We assayed P2 receptor mRNA and protein expression in the DLPFC and ACC in subjects diagnosed with SCZ and matched, non-psychiatrically ill controls (n = 20-22/group). P2RX7, P2RX4 and male P2RX5 mRNA expression were significantly increased (p < 0.05) in the DLPFC in SCZ. Expression of P2RX7 protein isoform was also significantly increased (p < 0.05) in the DLPFC in SCZ. Significant increases in P2RX4 and male P2RX5 mRNA expression may be associated with antipsychotic medication effects. We found that P2RX4 and P2RX7 mRNA are significantly correlated with the inflammatory marker SERPINA3, and may suggest an association between upregulated P2XR and neuroinflammation in SCZ. These findings lend support for brain-region dependent dysregulation of the purinergic system in SCZ.