November 1977

Possible Changes in Striatal and Limbic Cholinergic Systems in Schizophrenia

Author Affiliations

From the Kinsmen Laboratory of Neurological Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1977;34(11):1319-1323. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1977.01770230061003

• Enzymes concerned with neurotransmitter metabolism were measured postmortem in 50 regions from the brains of 11 chronic schizophrenics, 2 patients with senile dementia, 1 depressive, and 18 controls. Enzymes studied were tyrosine hydroxylase, dopa decarboxylase, glutamic decarboxylase, choline acetyltransferase (CAT), and acetylcholinesterase. The schizophrenic group had high CAT activities in the hippocampus, caudate, putamen, and nucleus accumbens; the other patients from the same hospital did not. A compensatory response to long- or short-term drug usage is considered, but correlations are hard to establish in the group studied. An alternative hypothesis proposes that the high levels are a compensatory response to defective cholinergic receptors in the affected areas. On this hypothesis, and by analogy with chorea, dopaminergic antagonists would act in schizophrenia by helping to reestablish cholinergic-dopaminergic balance.