New Chemical Pathway Associated with Schizophrenia Symptoms Identified

Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental health condition affecting many adults.  The precise cause of the disease is not known, and there is no cure.  However, recent research into neurochemical processes has identified kynurenic acid (KYNA) as a key player in schizophrenia.

The research is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.  The detailed information can be found at Adaptive and Behavioral Changes in Kynurenine 3-Monooxygenase Knockout Mice: Relevance to Psychotic Disorders, Sophie Erhardt, et al., Biological Psychiatry, doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.12.011.

KYNA helps the body metabolize tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid.  Tryptophan is important in the body’s production of serotonin and niacin.  KYNA also decreases glutamate, which is recognized as important for healthy brain functioning.

Prior studies identified the role of KYNA in the brain and its association with schizophrenia.  A new study looked at changes made with the enzyme KMO (kynurenine 3-monooxygenase) was deleted. 

KMO is also important in schizophrenia.  Studies indicate that when KMO decreases, KYNA increase.  When the KMO was deleted, KYNA was increased in the study participants as expected.  KYNA was also higher in the cerebellum than in the cerebrum. 

The KMO-deficient subjects displayed contextual memory problems and they socialized less with unknown subjects.  Anxiety-like behavior also increased in testing. 

The study suggested that KMO and KYNA are crucial factors in schizophrenia. 

Scientists also indicate the study has therapeutic value, although it is not yet fully known. 

As a Social Security disability attorney, I have represented a few individuals suffering from schizophrenia.  It is truly a debilitating disease.  I am hopeful these studies and research provide information that leads to successful treatment.

Loyd J. Bourgeois
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Disability and Personal Injury Attorney
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