Objective: Postmortem studies have implicated the central muscarinic acetylcholine system in schizophrenia. However, central muscarinic receptor availability has not previously been studied in vivo. Using [I-123]iodoquinuclidinyl benzilate ([123I]IQNB) single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), the authors sought to compare the muscarinic receptor availability in vivo in unmedicated patients with schizophrenia and normal subjects. Method: Twelve medication-free patients with schizophrenia underwent an [123I]IQNB SPECT scan during approximate-equilibrium conditions. A group of 10 age- and gender-matched normal comparison subjects were given the same kind of scan under similar conditions. Regions of interest were analyzed in the cortex, basal ganglia, thalamus, and pons. Binding data were analyzed as nCi/ml tissue per mCi injected dose. Results: Muscarinic receptor availability was significantly less in patients with schizophrenia than in normal subjects in all regions of interest except the pons. Reductions ranged from -33% in the caudate to -20% in the occipital cortex. Positive symptoms of schizophrenia correlated negatively with muscarinic receptor availability in the striatum and the frontal cortex. Conclusions: These results indicate a reduction in muscarinic acetylcholine receptor availability in vivo in unmedicated patients with schizophrenia, confirming results from postmortem studies and adding further evidence that the muscarinic system is involved in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health