Implication of the glutamate-cystine antiporter xCT in schizophrenia cases linked to impaired GSH synthesis.



September 18, 2017


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M. Fournier et al., « Implication of the glutamate-cystine antiporter xCT in schizophrenia cases linked to impaired GSH synthesis. », Serveur académique Lausannois, ID : 10.1038/s41537-017-0035-3


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Abstract 0

xCT is the specific chain of the cystine/glutamate antiporter, which is widely reported to support anti-oxidant defenses in vivo. xCT is therefore at the crossroads between two processes that are involved in schizophrenia: oxidative stress and glutamatergic neurotransmission. But data from human studies implicating xCT in the illness and clarifying the upstream mechanisms of xCT imbalance are still scarce. Low glutathione (GSH) levels and genetic risk in GCLC (Glutamate-Cysteine Ligase Catalytic subunit), the gene of limiting synthesizing enzyme for GSH, are both associated with schizophrenia. In the present study, we aimed at determining if xCT regulation by the redox system is involved in schizophrenia pathophysiology. We assessed whether modulating GCLC expression impact on xCT expression and activity (i) in fibroblasts from patients and controls with different GCLC genotypes which are known to affect GCLC regulation and GSH levels; (ii) in rat brain glial cells, i.e., astrocytes and oligodendrocytes, with a knock-down of GCLC. Our results highlight that decreased GCLC expression leads to an upregulation of xCT levels in patients' fibroblasts as well as in astrocytes. These results support the implication of xCT dysregulation in illness pathophysiology and further indicate that it can result from redox changes. Additionally, we showed that these anomalies may already take place at early stages of psychosis and be more prominent in a subgroup of patients with GCLC high-risk genotypes. These data add to the existing evidence identifying the inflammatory/redox systems as important targets to treat schizophrenia already at early stages. ANTIOXIDANT DEFICIT INCREASES A KEY NEUROTRANSMITTER TRANSPORTER: Deficit of antioxidant synthesis in schizophrenia leads to oxidative stress and changes in neurotransmitter transporter. Led by Kim Do, a team of researchers from Lausanne University in Switzerland investigated the role of the cell-surface transport protein xCT in schizophrenia. They found that an enzyme responsible for antioxidant production is disturbed in patients. This leads to decreased antioxidant levels and consequently to oxidative stress-i.e. the accumulation of reactive oxygen molecules, damaging the cells component and impairing cell functioning-which in turn affects the functioning of the antioxidant pathway, including xCT. xCT, which exports the neurotransmitter glutamate, is thus overproduced in schizophrenia. The resulting increase of neurotransmitter activity, alongside the increase in oxidative stress, is thought to play a major role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia, including at early stages of the disease.

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