OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that schizophrenia involves altered
cholinergic tone in the pons, the authors studied post-mortem brain tissue
from subjects with schizophrenia. METHOD: The authors used Western
immunoblot to measure the concentration of choline acetyltransferase, an
acetylcholine synthesizing enzyme, in the post- mortem brain tissue of 25
schizophrenic subjects and 28 nonschizophrenic comparison subjects. They
also measured the concentration of glial fibrillary acidic protein, a
protein from astrocytes, to examine the question of neurodegeneration.
RESULTS: The pontine choline acetyltransferase concentrations of the
schizophrenic subjects were 46% lower than those of comparison subjects, a
significant difference. Glial fibrillary acidic protein concentrations did
not differ between the two groups. CONCLUSIONS: The lower concentration of
choline acetyltransferase in the pontine tegmentum of schizophrenic
subjects compared with comparison subjects suggests involvement of pontine
cholinergic neurons in schizophrenia.