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Membrane phospholipid composition, alterations in neurotransmitter systems and schizophrenia.

du Bois TM, Deng C, Huang XF. (2005) Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2005 Jul 29(6) 878-888 DOI: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2005.04.034 PMID: 16005134

Web URL: View this and related abstract via PubMed here. Free full text is available online.


This review addresses the relationship between modifications in membrane phospholipid composition (MPC) and alterations in dopaminergic, serotonergic and cholinergic neurotransmitter systems in schizophrenia.

The main evidence in support of the MPC hypothesis of schizophrenia comes from post-mortem and platelet studies, which show that in schizophrenia, certain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels are reduced. Furthermore, examination of several biochemical markers suggests abnormal fatty acid metabolism may be present in schizophrenia.

Dietary manipulation of MPC with polyunsaturated fatty acid diets has been shown to affect densities of dopamine, serotonin and muscarinic receptors in rats. Also, supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids has been shown to improve mental health rating scores, and there is evidence that the mechanism behind this involves the serotonin receptor complex. This suggests that a tight relationship exists between essential fatty acid status and normal neurotransmission, and that altered PUFA levels may contribute to the abnormalities in neurotransmission seen in schizophrenia.