Reduced Binding Potential of GABA-A/Benzodiazepine Receptors in Individuals at Ultra-high Risk for Psychosis: An [18F]-Fluoroflumazenil Positron Emission Tomography Study

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Abstract

Background:

Altered transmission of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the presence of GABA-A/benzodiazepine (BZ) receptor binding abnormalities in individuals at ultra-high risk (UHR) for psychosis in comparison with normal controls using [18F]-fluoroflumazenil (FFMZ) positron emission tomography (PET). In particular, we set regions of interest in the striatum (caudate, putamen, and nucleus accumbens) and medial temporal area (hippocampus and parahippocampal gyrus).

Methods:

Eleven BZ-naive people at UHR and 15 normal controls underwent PET scanning using [18F]-FFMZ to measure GABA-A/BZ receptor binding potential. The regional group differences between UHR individuals and normal controls were analyzed using Statistical Parametric Mapping 8 software. Participants were evaluated using the structured interview for prodromal syndromes and neurocognitive function tasks.

Results:

People at UHR demonstrated significantly reduced binding potential of GABA-A/BZ receptors in the right caudate.

Conclusions:

Altered GABAergic transmission and/or the imbalance of inhibitory and excitatory systems in the striatum may be present at the putative prodromal stage and play a pivotal role in the pathophysiology of psychosis.

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