Schizophrenia: glutathione deficit in cerebrospinal fluid and prefrontal cortex in vivo


: Dr K. Q. Do, as above.


Schizophrenia is a major psychiatric disease, which affects the centre of the personality, with severe problems of perception, cognition as well as affective and social behaviour. In cerebrospinal fluid of drug-free schizophrenic patients, a significant decrease in the level of total glutathione (GSH) by 27% (P < 0.05) was observed as compared to controls, in keeping with the reported reduced level of its metabolite γ-glutamylglutamine. With a new non-invasive proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy methodology, GSH level in medial prefrontal cortex of schizophrenic patients was found to be 52% (P = 0.0012) lower than in controls. GSH plays a fundamental role in protecting cells from damage by reactive oxygen species generated among others by the metabolism of dopamine. A deficit in GSH would lead to degenerative processes in the surrounding of dopaminergic terminals resulting in loss of connectivity. GSH also potentiates the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor response to glutamate, an effect presumably reduced by a GSH deficit, leading to a situation similar to the application of phencyclidine (PCP). Thus, a GSH hypothesis might integrate many established biological aspects of schizophrenia.