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.