CSF GABA is reduced in first-episode psychosis and associates to symptom severity
Schizophrenia is characterized by a multiplicity of symptoms arising from almost all domains of mental function. γ-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and is increasingly recognized to have a significant role in the pathophysiology of the disorder. In the present study, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of GABA were analyzed in 41 first-episode psychosis (FEP) patients and 21 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers by high-performance liquid chromatography. We found lower CSF GABA concentration in FEP patients compared with that in the healthy volunteers, a condition that was unrelated to antipsychotic and/or anxiolytic medication. Moreover, lower CSF GABA levels were associated with total and general score of Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, illness severity and probably with a poor performance in a test of attention. This study offers clinical in vivo evidence for a potential role of GABA in early-stage schizophrenia.