Decreased chloride channel expression in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in schizophrenia


Alterations in GABAergic neurotransmission are implicated in several psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia. The Na-K-Cl and K-Cl cotransporters regulate intracellular chloride levels. Abnormalities in cotransporter expression levels could shift the chloride electrochemical gradient and impair GABAergic transmission. In this study, we performed Western blot analysis to investigate whether the Na-K-Cl and K-Cl cotransporter protein is abnormally expressed in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex in patients with schizophrenia versus a control group. We found decreased K-Cl cotransporter protein expression in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, but not the anterior cingulate cortex, in subjects with schizophrenia, supporting the hypothesis of region level abnormal GABAergic function in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Subjects with schizophrenia off antipsychotic medication at the time of death had decreased K-Cl cotransporter protein expression compared to both normal controls and subjects with schizophrenia on antipsychotics. Our results provide evidence for KCC2 protein abnormalities in schizophrenia and suggest that antipsychotic medications might reverse deficits of this protein in the illness.