Benzodiazepine receptors in the post-mortem brain of suicide victims and schizophrenic subjects

Ghanshyam N. Pandey, Robert R. Conley, Subhash C. Pandey, Sudhir Goel, Rosalinda C. Roberts, Carol A. Tamminga, Dennis Chute, John Smialek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


To examine the role of benzodiazepine (BZ) receptors in suicide and schizophrenia, we determined BZ receptors in post-mortem brain (Brodmann's area 10) obtained from suicide victims, schizophrenic patients, and control subjects using [3H]RO15-1788 as the radioligand. The maximum number of binding sites (B(max)) of BZ receptors in the cortex of suicide victims was significantly higher compared with controls, but this increase was mainly due to those suicide victims who died by violent means and whose B(max), was significantly higher than of those who died by non-violent means or control subjects. In schizophrenic patients, B(max) was not significantly different from that of control subjects. When the schizophrenic subjects were separated into two groups, those on neuroleptics and those off neuroleptics for at least 12 months, however, the mean B(max) of BZ receptors in the prefrontal cortex in post-mortem brain obtained from schizophrenic patients on neuroleptics was significantly lower than B(max) in drug-free schizophrenic patients or normal controls. There were no significant differences among groups in values of the apparent dissociation constant (K(D)) of [3H]RO15- 1788 binding. These results suggest that BZ receptors are up-regulated in the cortex of suicide victims, specifically those who used violent means, and that neuroleptic treatment may result in decreased central BZ receptor binding in the cortex of schizophrenic patients. Thus, the method of suicide and previous exposure to neuroleptics should be considered in the interpretation of data on BZ receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-149
Number of pages13
JournalPsychiatry research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 8 1997


  • Benzodiazepine receptors
  • Neuroleptic drugs
  • Schizophrenia
  • Suicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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