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Up-regulation of the Trace Amine Receptor, TAAR-1, in the Prefrontal Cortex of Individuals Affected by Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia Bulletin 2023 October 29
BACKGROUND AND HYPOTHESIS: Type-1 trace amine-associated receptors (TAAR1) modulate dopaminergic and glutamatergic neurotransmission and are targeted by novel antipsychotic drugs. We hypothesized that schizophrenia (SCZ) causes adaptive changes in TAAR1 expression in the prefrontal cortex.

STUDY DESIGN: We measured TAAR1 mRNA and protein levels by quantitative PCR and immunoblotting in post-mortem prefrontal cortical samples obtained from 23 individuals affected by SCZ and 23 non-schizophrenic controls (CTRL). Data were correlated with a number of variables in both groups.

STUDY RESULTS: TAAR1 mRNA levels were largely increased in the SCZ prefrontal cortex, and did not correlate with age, age at onset and duration of SCZ, or duration of antipsychotic treatment. For the analysis of TAAR1 protein levels, CTRL and SCZ were divided into 2 subgroups, distinguished by the extent of neuropathological burden. CTRL with low neuropathological burden (LNB) had lower TAAR1 protein levels than CTRL with high neuropathological burden (HNB), whereas no changes were found between LNB and HNB in the SCZ group. TAAR1 protein levels were lower in CTRL with LNB with respect to all SCZ samples or to SCZ samples with LNB. In the SCZ group, levels showed an inverse correlation with the duration of antipsychotic treatment and were higher in individuals treated with second-generation antipsychotics as compared with those treated with first-generation antipsychotics.

CONCLUSIONS: The up-regulation of TAAR1 observed in the SCZ prefrontal cortex supports the development of TAAR1 agonists as new promising drugs in the treatment of SCZ.

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