Plasma GABA levels in psychiatric illness

J Affect Disord. 1984 Apr;6(2):131-8. doi: 10.1016/0165-0327(84)90018-1.


In two separate studies, we have obtained plasma levels of GABA in 134 psychiatric patients and 22 normal controls. Patients with a unipolar affective disorder had levels significantly lower than control (n = 58) as did patients with alcoholism (n = 10). Patients with a bipolar affective disorder had levels significantly higher than control when manic (n = 28) and also when euthymic on lithium prophylaxis (n = 17), but levels in the control range when depressed (n = 4). Patients with schizophrenia demonstrated a high degree of variability in their levels of plasma GABA but were not statistically different from control (n = 36). Patients with unipolar depression who received a dexamethasone suppression test had no correlation between nonsuppression of cortisol secretion and plasma levels of GABA. Diagnostic and research implication of plasma GABA in psychiatric illness are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Bipolar Disorder / blood
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy
  • Depressive Disorder / blood
  • Dexamethasone
  • Humans
  • Lithium / therapeutic use
  • Mental Disorders / blood*
  • Schizophrenia / blood
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / blood*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Dexamethasone
  • Lithium