N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptor and inflammation in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia
Lower N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) GluN1 subunit levels and heightened neuroinflammation are found in the cortex in schizophrenia. Since neuroinflammation can lead to changes in NMDAR function, it is possible that these observations are linked in schizophrenia. We aimed to extend our previous studies by measuring molecular indices of NMDARs that define key functional properties of this receptor — particularly the ratio of GluN2A and GluN2B subunits — in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) from schizophrenia and control cases (37/37). We sought to test whether changes in these measures are specific to the subset of schizophrenia cases with high levels of inflammation-related mRNAs, defined as a high inflammatory subgroup. Quantitative autoradiography was used to detect ‘functional’ NMDARs ([3H]MK-801), GluN1-coupled-GluN2A subunits ([3H]CGP-39653), and GluN1-coupled-GluN2B subunits ([3H]Ifenprodil). Quantitative RT-PCR was used to measure NMDAR subunit transcripts (GRIN1, GRIN2A and GRIN2B). The ratios of GluN2A:GluN2B binding and GRIN2A:GRIN2B mRNAs were calculated as an index of putative NMDAR composition. We found: 1) GluN2A binding, and 2) the ratios of GluN2A:GluN2B binding and GRIN2A:GRIN2B mRNAs were lower in schizophrenia cases versus controls (p < 0.05), and 3) lower GluN2A:GluN2B binding and GRIN2A:GRIN2B mRNA ratios were exaggerated in the high inflammation/schizophrenia subgroup compared to the low inflammation/control subgroup (p < 0.05). No other NMDAR-related indices were significantly changed in the high inflammation/schizophrenia subgroup. This suggests that neuroinflammation may alter NMDAR stoichiometry rather than targeting total NMDAR levels overall, and future studies could aim to determine if anti-inflammatory treatment can alleviate this aspect of NMDAR-related pathology.
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