Nav: Home

World first study reveals antibodies that may trigger psychosis in children

March 31, 2015

A world first study revealing the presence of two antibodies in a sub-group of children experiencing their first episode of psychosis affirms a longstanding recognition that auto-immune disorders play a significant role in psychiatric illness.

Antibodies defend the body against bacterial, viral, and other invaders but sometimes the body makes antibodies that attack healthy cells. In these cases, autoimmune disorders develop. These include conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes.

This 'immune hypothesis' is supported by new work colleagues in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry

Researchers from the Kids Research Institute at the Children's Hospital, Westmead, and the University of Sydney detected antibodies to the dopamine D2 receptor or the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor among eight out of 43 children experiencing their first episode of psychosis, but no such antibodies in healthy children.

Both are key neural signaling proteins previously been implicated in psychosis.

"The antibodies we have detected in children having a first episode of acute psychosis suggest there is a distinct subgroup for whom autoimmunity plays a role in their illness," says the University of Sydney's Dr Fabienne Brilot, the senior author on the paper and Head of the Neuroimmunology Group at The Children's Hospital at Westmead in Sydney.

"The finding suggests that better interventions are possible, providing hope that major disability can be prevented for the subset of children experiencing acute psychosis with antibodies," Brilot adds.

Dopamine is a chemical messenger aiding the transmission of signals in the brain and other areas of the body. Regulating its actions plays a crucial role in mental and physical health.

Dopamine acts on receptors tailored specifically for it. The dopamine-2 receptor (D2R) is one of five subtypes of mammalian dopamine. Increasing knowledge of the roles of dopamine receptor subtypes raises the hope that more selective drugs will be developed.

Abnormalities in dopaminergic neurotransmission play a key role in the pathogenesis of psychosis. Many drugs affect dopamine transmission directly by either blocking or stimulating its receptors.

Many antipsychotics show varying affinities for the different dopamine receptors but blockade of the dopamine-2 receptor (D2R) specifically has proved to be indispensable in the clinical management of psychosis.

While less well established than dopamine, it is also likely that glutamatergic dysfunction also plays a role in psychotic disease.

This suggests that specific pathologies and processes affecting D2R and the glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) could define biological subgroups and may be involved in the pathogenesis of psychosis and other psychiatric illnesses such as schizophrenia.

"There is a pressing need in psychiatry to establish biologically based disease subtypes, which might allow for more specific diagnosis and effective intervention," says Dr Brilot.

"Our findings contribute further understanding of the biology of psychiatric and neurological diseases and whether autoantibodies detected in a subgroup of patients can trigger psychiatric disorders.

"Further research will reveal whether these antibodies are the mark of a clinically relevant subset of patients and, if so, whether immunosuppressive therapies can effectively treat children with these debilitating illnesses."
-end-


University of Sydney

Related Dopamine Articles:

How dopamine drives brain activity
Using a specialized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sensor that can track dopamine levels, MIT neuroscientists have discovered how dopamine released deep within the brain influences distant brain regions.
Novelty speeds up learning thanks to dopamine activation
Brain scientists led by Sebastian Haesler (NERF, empowered by IMEC, KU Leuven and VIB) have identified a causal mechanism of how novel stimuli promote learning.
Evidence in mice that childhood asthma is influenced by the neurotransmitter dopamine
Neurons that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine communicate with T cells to enhance allergic inflammation in the lungs of young mice but not older mice, researchers report Nov.
Chronic adversity dampens dopamine production
People exposed to a lifetime of psychosocial adversity may have an impaired ability to produce the dopamine levels needed for coping with acutely stressful situations.
Blocking dopamine weakens effects of cocaine
Blocking dopamine receptors in different regions of the amygdala reduces drug seeking and taking behavior with varying longevity, according to research in rats published in eNeuro.
How chronic inflammation may drive down dopamine and motivation
A new computational method will allow scientists to measure the effects of chronic inflammation on energy availability and effort-based decision-making.
Dopamine regulates sex differences in worms
Dopamine is responsible for sex-specific variations in common behaviors, finds a study of worm movements published in JNeurosci.
Dopamine conducts prefrontal cortex ensembles
New research in rodents reveals for the first time how dopamine changes the function of the brain's prefrontal cortex.
Dopamine modulates reward experiences elicited by music
New study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reveals causal link between dopamine and human reward response to music listening.
Dopamine modulates the reward experiences elicited by music
Researchers from IDIBELL-UB, the Sant Pau Hospital and the McGill University published a new study in PNAS that shows for the first time a causal link between the dopaminergic system and enjoying music.
More Dopamine News and Dopamine Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.