Glutamate Imbalance Impairs Hippocampus, Leading to Psychosis

Dysregulation of the dopamine neurotransmitter system has long been associated with schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis, but recently researchers have begun to examine the glutamate and GABA systems as well.

Studies have shown that an excitatory-inhibitory imbalance begins with improperly functioning NMDA-type glutamate receptors (NMDAR) in temporal regions of the brain, but much of the evidence comes from studies of the brains of psychotic people, leaving in question whether the imbalance results from psychotic symptoms or precedes them.

Now, a new study in people with the copy variant number 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11DS) probes the excitatory-inhibitory neurotransmitter system prior to the onset of psychosis.

Deletion carriers have a strong predisposition for psychiatric illnesses including anxiety and mood disorders, and they have a 30% lifetime risk of developing psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia, by adulthood.

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