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Changes of Hypocretin (Orexin) System in Schizophrenia

Research group Swaab
Publication year 2021
Published in Schizophrenia bulletin
Authors Jing Lu, Manli Huang, Jin-Hui Li, Kang-Yu Jin, Hai-Mei Li, Ting-Ting Mou, Rolf Fronczek, Jin-Feng Duan, Wei-Juan Xu, D.F. Swaab, A.M. Bao

Hypocretin (also called orexin) regulates various functions, such as sleep-wake rhythms, attention, cognition, and energy balance, which show significant changes in schizophrenia (SCZ). We aimed to identify alterations in the hypocretin system in SCZ patients. We measured plasma hypocretin-1 levels in SCZ patients and healthy controls and found significantly decreased plasma hypocretin-1 levels in SCZ patients, which was mainly due to a significant decrease in female SCZ patients compared with female controls. In addition, we measured postmortem hypothalamic hypocretin-1-immunoreactivity (ir), ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hypocretin-1 levels, and hypocretin receptor (Hcrt-R) mRNA expression in the superior frontal gyrus (SFG) in SCZ patients and controls We observed a significant decrease in the amount of hypothalamic hypocretin-1 ir in SCZ patients, which was due to decreased amounts in female but not male patients. Moreover, Hcrt-R2 mRNA in the SFG was decreased in female SCZ patients compared with female controls, while male SCZ patients showed a trend of increased Hcrt-R1 mRNA and Hcrt-R2 mRNA expression compared with male controls. We conclude that central hypocretin neurotransmission is decreased in SCZ patients, especially female patients, and this is reflected in the plasma.

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