Catecholamines and their receptors in blood: evidence for alterations in schizophrenia

Biol Psychiatry. 1984 Oct;19(10):1377-93.


The simultaneous determination of serum catecholamine (CA) and their receptors in blood cells offers the possibility of evaluating disturbances of the dopamine (DA) and noradrenaline (NA) neuronal systems in man. High-affinity binding sites for 3H-yohimbine in platelets, 3H-DHA in granulocytes, and 3H-spiperone in lymphocytes from healthy control persons, unmedicated (n = 28), and medicated (n = 8) schizophrenics, and from an unmedicated psychiatric control group (n = 14) were investigated. Furthermore, the actual concentration of the circulating CA was determined with HPLC-ECD. In unmedicated schizophrenics, as compared with controls, specific binding of 3H-spiperone to lymphocytes was markedly elevated in capacity and less in affinity. For beta 2 receptors a significant decrease was found in capacity with no change in affinity. The changes in alpha 2 receptors, viz. a slight decrease in capacity, were less distinct. The concentrations of circulating CA ranged from normal values to a more than threefold increase in NA and DA, whereas adrenaline (A) concentrations were nearly unchanged. No overall change in these data was found in the medicated schizophrenic patients. 3H-Spiperone binding was characteristically increased only in schizophrenics, but did not rise above control data in the nonschizophrenic psychiatric control group. Preliminary family studies suggest that this model could be valuable as a vulnerability marker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Platelets / analysis
  • Catecholamines / blood*
  • Female
  • Granulocytes / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / analysis
  • Male
  • Receptors, Adrenergic / analysis*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / analysis
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta / analysis
  • Receptors, Catecholamine
  • Schizophrenia / blood*


  • Catecholamines
  • Receptors, Adrenergic
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, beta
  • Receptors, Catecholamine