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Huntington’s chorea and schizophrenia : amino acids in thalamus Buchanan, Janet Ann


Amino acids and other ninhydrin-positive compounds were measured in post-mortem thalamus from 25 Huntington's choreics, 10 schizophrenics, 5 schizophrenic-like psychotics, and 23 controls dying without neurological disease. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) was significantly reduced in choreic thalami, in accord with deficiencies found in other brain regions choreics (Perry et al., 1973a,b). GABA was also significantly reduced in schizophrenic thalami, suggesting a biochemical link between these two diseases, and supporting the hypothesis of a defect in the GABA system in schizophrenia (Roberts, 1972). Homocarnosine, a GABA-containing dipeptide, was also low in choreic and 9 out of 10 schizophrenic thalami. One schizophrenic had extremely high homocarnosine. Glycerophosphoethanolamine was significantly elevated in Huntington's choreics, but not in schizophrenics. A number of other variables were considered for their potential influence on amino acid concentrations in thalamus. The majority of amino acids were found to rise in a significantly linear fashion in the interval 3 to 49 hours post-mortem, although other models might have described the change better. GABA, ornithine, histidine and tyrosine were found to decrease significantly with increasing age between 21 and 80 years, in controls. The effects of pre-mortem hypoxia, regional variation within the thalamus, and neuroleptic drug treatment could not be rigorously tested with these data. Neuroleptics were unlikely to have been the cause of group differences in GABA concentration, since they failed to deplete GABA in brain of chronically treated rats. On the other hand, bronchopneumonia and other causes of pre-mortem hypoxia could not be ruled out as potential contributers to reduced GABA in thalamus.

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