Schizophrenia is an extremely debilitating and costly disease that is difficult to understand and treat. Now, researchers in the University of Michigan Health System are offering new evidence that may alter the way the disease is viewed and may ultimately impact the way schizophrenia is treated.
They have just completed a multi-facetted study that re-examines the role of the cholinergic system in schizophrenia. The cholinergic system comprises the nerve cells or fibers that employ acetylcholine as their neurotransmitter. Cholinergic nerve connections, or synapses, are of two major types, utilizing muscarinic receptors and nicotinic receptors. More than 90 percent of the cholinergic receptors are muscarinic.
Investigators reviewed a series of 15 studies they conducted over the previous decade and then performed two clinical trials. Through these, the authors find that the cholinergic system may be a far more important player in schizophrenia than previously believed. Their findings are published in a recent issue of the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
Schizophrenia comprises a group of psychotic illnesses, characterized by disturbances in perception, thinking, emotional reaction and behavior, along with extensive withdrawal of interest in other people and the outside world. Its symptoms are categorized into three groups:
The negative and cognitive symptoms are the hardest to treat and the most debilitating.
For several decades, the dopaminergic system -- the system that uses dopamine as it's neurotransmitter -- has been thought to be the main regulator of schi
Contact: Pete Barkey or Kara Gavin
University of Michigan Health System