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Review Article

Glutamatergic System and Schizophrenia

Osman Özdemir, Pınar Güzel Özdemir.

Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. It has a role several cognitive func-tions including learning, memory and perception. Glutamatergic neurotransmission is also involved in regulating neuronal migration, synaptogenesis, and the pruning neurons. Glutamatergic exci-totoxicity has been implicated in various neuropsychiatric disorders. Accumulating evidence suggests that glutamatergic dysfunction may contribute to the pathogenesis of schizophrenia. The N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor antagonists such as phencyclidine and ketamine can cause both the positive and negative symptoms psychotic symptoms in normal humans, and worsen these symptoms in persons with schizophrenia. Hence, it has been hypotesized that schizophrenia may be associated with decreased NMDA-receptor activity. According to the hypothesis, NMDA reseptor hypofunction can lead to decreased inhibition of glutamatergic neurons and excessive glutamate release. Finally, the reduction of gray matter in several brain regions seen in patients with schizophrenia has been suggested to be the result of neurotoxicity mediated by NMDA receptors.

Key words: Schizophrenia, glutamate, NMDA receptor hypofunction

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