There is decreased activity of glutamate carboxypeptidase II (GCP II) in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and hippocampus of patients with schizophrenia. GCP II hydrolzses N-acetyl-α L-aspartyl-L-glutamate (NAAG), a peptide in the mammalian brain that binds to the N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and a group II metabotropic glutamate receptor, both of which have been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. We examined the expression of GCP II mRNA in the DLPFC, entorhinal cortex (ERC), and hippocampus in postmortem samples from patients with schizophrenia and normal controls using in situ hybridization followed by silver grain detection. GCP II mRNA was detected in glial cells. Glial-rich regions, specifically the DLPFC and ERC white matter and the molecular and polymorphic layers in the hippocampus, express high levels of GCP II mRNA. Given the earlier finding of decreased GCP II activity in brains of subjects with schizophrenia, we expected to find lower GCP II mRNA levels in schizophrenia. Contrary to this expectation, we found a significantly higher expression of GCP II mRNA in one of the brain areas examined, the hippocampal CA3 polymorphic region. This may reflect a compensatory increase to correct for the decreased activity of GCP II activity. Our findings support the notion that the hydrolysis of NAAG is disrupted in schizophrenia and that specific anatomical regions may show discrete abnormalities in GCP II synthesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health