A study from Clumbia Medical School in New York shows that schizophrenia is caused by excessive response to the neurotransmitter, dopamine.

Most disturbances in brain function are caused by abnormalities in neurotransmitters, the chemicals that transmit messages from one nerve to another. Sadness in depression is caused by low levels of serotonin and nor epinephrine; lack of reasoning in Alzheimer's disease is caused by low levels of acetyl choline; uncontrolled shaking in Parkinson's disease is caused by low levels of dopamine; and the bizarre thought process in schizophrenia is caused by increased response to dopamine.

Neurotransmitters exert their effects by binding to specific receptors sites on nerves. A team at Columbia used SPECT analysis to show that the increased response to dopamine in schizophrenics is caused by their having a greater percentage of their receptors bound by dopamine. This supports the present treatment of schizophrenia with prescription drugs that block dopamine response in nerve cells.

1) Abi-Dargham, A et al. Proc Natl Acad SCI USA 2000;97:8104-9.

2) Lancet September 16, 2000.

Checked 8/9/05

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