Cellular Bilingualism May Reveal Schizophrenic Secrets

Researchers have uncovered new information about neuron communication that they hope will aid research into brain diseases like schizophrenia. The phenomenon, called "cellular bilingualism," allows a single neuron to communicate through two different methods simultaneously. While neurons are generally classified based on one type of neurotransmitter, they are not necessarily limited to their main transmitter alone.

The team of researchers, from the University of Montreal and McGill University, found that many brain neurons have the ability to use two neurotransmitters to control cerebral activity. This "cotransmission" has been shown in the dopaminergic neurons that are known to be involved in schizophrenia. These neurons primarily transmit signals using dopamine, but also use glutamate for sending quicker signals. The researchers also observed cellular bilingualism in brain neurons that transmit using serotonin and acetylcholine. Serotoninergic neurons play a role in controlling mood, aggression, impulsivity, and food intake; acetylcholinic neurons help control motor skills and memory and are affected by antipsychotic drugs.

"Our work could facilitate the identification of mechanisms that disrupt the function of dopaminergic, serotonergic and cholinergic neurons in diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson's and depression," wrote Dr. Louis-Eric Trudeau of the University of Montreal's Department of Pharmacology and Dr. Salah El Mestikawy, a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and professor at McGill's Department of Psychiatry.

Read more at http://www.news-medical.net/news/20110318/Researchers-discover-a-type-of...

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